Saturday, February 03, 2007

AICTE: all bark, no bite?

TOI reports: 'AICTE warns b schools running from rented buildings'.

In fact, AICTE has threatened to 'close down' all b schools and engineering colleges which are functioning out of rented buildings or sheds if they do not shift to approved permanent sites with 'full facilities' by March 31 2007.

Which is less than 60 days away.

Wonderful, you might say. The question is, what are 'full facilities'? And is physical infrastructure the only indicator of institutional excellence??

Let me tackle the first question first. There was a time when one could pinpoint the necessary 'facilities' a good techincal institute must have. Chief among these would be a well equipped computer centre with a conducive student: PC ratio. And a well stocked library.

Additionally, engineering colleges need laboratories. B schools do not have any such requirement.

Cut to the present. A large number of b schools now ask students to purchase a laptop when joining the course and simply provide wifi access. Libraries still exist, but I see fewer and fewer students accessing them or using them even to study. 'Google research' appears to suffice for most projects.

Theoretically, a college could simply subscribe to online databases and ensure its students access to a wide enough knowledge base.

Bacha kya? College building. Sure, that's important. But does a fancy building necessarily equal to excellent college? Aisa zaroori nahin hai. Physical infrastructure is the easiest thing to put up for any Mr Moneybags who wishes to set up a college. Besides, in a couple of student intake cycles the money spent on land and construction would pretty much get recovered.

In any case many excellent institutes including the likes of IIM Lucknow and IIM Indore initially operated from cramped, rented premises. In time, they built full-fledged campuses.

Now we come to faculty. AICTE has certain norms regarding the number of faculty a bschool must have. And the kind of qualifications they must possess. Ah, you might nod. An institute with numerous PhDs on its rolls must be a good one. But this too is no longer necessarily true.

ISB and Great Lakes have shown that one can operate institutes of merit with visiting faculty of high calibre and little permanent teaching staff. Many other decent management institutes are also operating primarily on a 'visiting faculty' basis.

A fact that AICTE does not seem to take into account when it includes criteria such as 'Recruitment, Strategies for Attracting and Retention of Faculty Personnel for Excellence, Promotional Avenues, Career Ladder' etc in its list of deliverables for schools seeking accreditation.

Any attempt to shut down hole-in-the-wall institutes is no doubt laudable. Certain 'minimum' standards must be met for an establishment to be an accredited b school or tschool. But it is equally true that the world is changing and AICTE should take this into account. Instead of getting obsessive about built up area per student being '11.7 sq m'.

I think two separate bodies should be set up to deal with engineering and management education. Engineering colleges need more infrastructure - laboratories, for example. And a 'visiting faculty' model may not be as viable as it is for bschools. So two different sets of norms would work much better.

Secondly, instead of a flat accreditation, AICTE should grade institutes. And lastly, when they need to stop threatening to act and actually act against those institutes which completely flunk out.

Revoking accreditation for a single high profile institute like Amity Business School is fine. But there are hundreds of bschools in similar or far worse condition. If AICTE truly has the interest of students at heart, they too should face the music.

The final irony is that even after losing accreditation Amity Business School continues to function - and is in fact attracting more students, as well as offering more courses and more seats. While AICTE calls itself ‘a statutory body’ accreditation is hardly statutory. It is desirable, but optional.

And there are territorial tussles with deemed universities asserting they need not get AICTE approval in the first place.

In the end, the free market appears to be the only real ‘regulator’. Word of mouth is what makes or breaks the reputation of a bschool or tschool. Not the word of AICTE.

Case Study: Keeping brand value alive

TOI reports: The venerable UVCE – one of Bangalore’s oldest and most reputed colleges – currently has a teacher:student ratio of 1:800!

The lone faculty in the nearly 100-year-old institution is K R Venugopal, chairman, department of computer science and engineering, who sits in the college premises from 9 am to 9 pm!

For the record, as per the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) guidelines, the college with its present student strength should have minimum 50 teachers.

Things are unlikely to change as a recent Bangalore University advertisement for 30 posts — 20 fulltime faculty and 10 posts on an hourly basis has not received a single application. No wonder - full time faculty is being offered merely Rs 10,000 in a city where a fresh B Tech can easily get a job paying twice that per month.

Not only AICTE, but everyone related to education needs to start thinking… differently. If we are to meet the aspirations of the millions of young Indians dreaming of a management or engineering education.


  1. The difference between ISB & GLIM vs other B Schools that operate on the 'visiting faculty' mode is that ISB and GLIM's visiting faculty is actually PhDs and professors from the US. In fact I had the pleasure of meeting folks like Prof vaidy jayaraman. In fact one cannot teach in ISB if one has an Indian FPM diploma given by the Indian B Schools.

    The 'visiting faculty' for other business schools are folks like me :-) and while well-meaning, the quality of education definitely is much more different.

    So maybe AICTE could make the condition that "%age of visiting faculty with a PhD/FPM" should be over a specified number.

    Yes, the market should be the judge of the quality of education that is offered, but there is hardly any publicly available data that is verifiable about the claims of educational institutes. I guess you are facing the same issue in your engineering college survey :-)

  2. Most of the times regulatory and government bodies try to assert their importance and authority, just for the sake of doing it.

    Probably AICTE is also doing the same.

    - Shailesh

  3. AICTE comes up with this kinda thing every now and then. If they really had good intentions they would not do it everytime. They do it only to show of some authority and in its lieu some guys would get a good chance to earn some quick bucks.

    Ideally market has to be the judge, but again market has its own pros and cons, the only readily available data for the ordinary students is the maagazines and news papers and they again driven by the market do what institutes with lesser capability want to be portrayed as!!

  4. Dear Rashmi,
    In a free market mechanism regulatory authority has a vital role to play. As you have pointed out, management education is largely operating in a market environment and largely becoming independent. Although for starting an MBA/PGDM course, one has to get AICTE approval, now there are educational entrepreneurs starting PG programmes( not diploma) that does not require any approval. These institutes ( including IIMs and ISB) operate realising that the customers(recruiters) seldom look for any approvals.But to be in a stage where no approval is needed to attract right candidates is not easy and is very expensive. For students, AICTE approval ( except for IIMS) give them some assurance with regard to basic infrastructure.I think in that way AICTE is doing fine. But the caveat is that all depends on how transparent is the regulatory authority is and how effective they are in enforcing basic standards.
    For students looking for higher studies like PhD should not only look at AICTE but also AIU approval to be accepted for doctoral studies.There are some universities that doesn't recognize IIM pgdm for doctoral studies. But the size of such students opting for higher studies are less.
    Regarding Visiting faculties, all management schools face severe shortage of good faculties. That crunch will remain so long as institutes take special effort to match the standards of the industry.

  5. Nice post...but you know what .at the end of the day,..its abt imparting nuggests of knowledge which one can grasp...I have seen many Phds faulter in that:)

  6. Frankly speaking like any other regulator in India AICTE is corrupt,efficient,uncompetent,regressive organisation which is doing nothing but wasting public money.I never understand on what logic they work and how that logic improve things on which that logixc is appplied.I am hardly a authority on the subject discussed here but as victum of AICTE irregularities and careless behaviour I wish AICTE to be more democratic,impartial,competent and jut-do-it type of regulator.

    AICTE lack innovation,lack conviction and wisdom of time.

    AICTE have lost the trust of people thats why people like to take admission in unaccreidated colleges. There requirments are wired, irrational,based on decade old data.So enterprenures in education sector have to take alternative paths legal or illegal.How can I make my collge competent by following 20 year old syllabus?

    Instead of giving useless thraed they shud think what wrong with them that they r not respected and trusted buy their owns. Instead of banning collge they shud come up with leveled ranking of colleges that student can follow at the times of admission.Instead of closing un-accrediated colleges they shud make accreditaion process simpler logical and an thing worth try.Instead of exercising power and false authority they shud try leadership in education.They shud work to create an environment of competetion and exellence in education.

    i sincrely wish some one from AICTE will read this thread and let us know where our alligations, commments, expectations are wrong.

  7. hi
    ur knowledge is good! i feel its nothing wronh saying to shut down the colleges. in case of GLIM and ISB they are already ready with a permenant infrastructure. but consider the case of those institutes who doesnt have an idea of a settlement
    are they nomads to move places ?
    if yes what abt their reputation ?
    and student future? will the student able to point the location 5 yrs down the line ?
    the case of IIM L and I might be applicable for those days but our focus should be on the present scenario.
    what exactly needed is proper infrastructure there by the students studing there might have a good settlement this provides
    1. students to study comfortable
    2. prevents many colleges providing management degree
    3. illegal classes and councelling for MBA degress
    4. more part time programs
    but the obstacle is with the implementation of this decision political politics should not be brought in this

  8. Shailesh said: "Most of the times regulatory and government bodies try to assert their importance and authority, just for the sake of doing it. Probably AICTE is also doing the same."

    Now, take a look at the composition of the council's executive committee at:

    Its clear why the system is not working efficiently. There're people who have no business being on the council. They are there only to prove Shailesh's comment true.

  9. Going by your post, it seems that AICTE is as bad as a presidents rubber stamp and some B schools awill give up thier dinner to get such a prized accredition !

  10. It is to be seen if after all these threats AICTE actually does something or whether its bark is worse than its bite.

  11. despite everything...students do go to these institutes?? doesn't it justify their existence...
    media have tried enough to expose them but still they're running their shops....all AICTE and UGC do is to write letters...
    i think only possible way to deal with bad institutes is to set up good institutes...
    might be opening the sector to foreign investment is a step in that direction....

  12. Couldnt help but notice Great Lakes mentioned. Being an alum, I am glad that my institute is beginning to get noticed. FYI, we are moving to a bigger and better campus near Mahabalipuram. Probably the next batch will have access to the facilities and the amazing faculty. But the first three batches had only the latter. Didnt make an iota of difference when it came to industry recognition.

  13. maam u can reffer to this regarding the AICTE issue

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