If you have not been living under a rock for the past few weeks, i am sure you’ve heard of the strikes and agitations that have taken place at various deemed universities throughout Tamil Nadu. Bharath Engg College, Dr. MGR Deemed University, SRM and now Sathyabama.
The crux of the issue is that the AICTE has not granted approval for some courses in some DU’s and students are worried that their future is at stake because of the non-recognition.
But if you really go down to the bottom of this issue, the fault lies with the government for not having given the DU’s proper powers to conduct their business unhindered (like changing the syllabus, for example) without the AICTE’s interference. Consecutive governments have indiscriminately approved engineering colleges all over the state in the name of technological development. The resulting glut of engineering colleges has increased supply of engineers and driven down salaries over the past few years. The sheer number of engineering colleges (one for every caste, tribe and MLA) has made keeping standards high very difficult and DU’s were supposed to ease the pressure on the state education apparatus by giving engineering institutions enough freedom to decide how they will educate their students.
But what has happened? The AICTE is supposed to be a body to plan, co-ordinate and promote technical education in the country. They are also supposed to be responsible for the regulation and maintenance of norms and standards in the technical education system.
The question is, who decides what the standards are? Is it the Indian scientific community? Is it the government?
I personally feel the only party who can establish standards is industry. If our engineers are not employable after completing their education, then what the fuck is the AICTE doing maintaining the quality of technical education? Why do graduates require recognition from the state? What is the purpose of a technical education? Isn’t getting a job the final goal of an engineering graduate?
If the DU’s were able to guarantee employment to their students, would we be seeing these protests? And why are DU’s unable to guarantee jobs? Because supply has outstripped demand for their engineers. What are the other options for these unemployed engineers? Government jobs of course. And this is the root of the problem. The conflict between centre (the head of the AICTE council is the HRD Minister, GOI) and state has led to this situation where students fear they wont get government jobs if they don’t get government recognized degrees.
What is the solution to this problem? My opinion here is to privatize education completely and let market forces prevail. Historically, market forces have been very effective in separating the good from the bad, be it companies, products, services. Why cant market forces clean up our education system when both state and central governments have proven themselves to be unworthy of this role?
The private education concept has worked before. It works very well in the management education space. Very few management institutes give out MBA degrees. Mostly what the student gets is a Post Graduate Diploma in Management. This is the case even with the IIM’s. And very few PGDM’s are recognized by the Indian government. So how come management students are not protesting? Simple. They are assured jobs when they complete their education. The HRD Ministry has surprisingly kept its meddling in management education to a minimum (probably because of industry lobbies).
So on one side we have a state managed technical education system in shambles with students resorting to violence to get themselves heard. on the other side we have industry recognized education systems, which are thriving in the same country. Is anyone seeing this picture? Vk is right, the country is going to the dogs after all..
Image courtesy of The Hindu.