NIT requires AICTE approval

India: Educational institutions need official approval

Unauthorized educational institutions are thriving in the Indian state of Maharashtra. A bill stipulates that educational institutions will need approval in the future. These are issued by central bodies such as the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) and the Medical Council of India.

Bill empowering higher edn authorities clears 1st hurdle

A bill to empower higher education authorities and regulatory bodies to initiate action against fake and unapproved institutions was passed in the Legislative Council Monday. It prescribes a Rs 1 lakh-Rs 5 lakh fine or prison term of a year for offenders.

To become an Act, the Assembly will have to clear the Bill and the Governor give his assent.

The Bill restricts a person or organization from setting up institutions or introduce courses in agriculture, health sciences, higher and technical and vocational education and animal and fishery sciences without the approval of a state regulatory body.

Many unauthorized educational institutions are thriving in Maharashtra, particularly in Mumbai and Pune. The Bill makes it mandatory for institutions proposing to offer higher education to get prior permission / approval from designated central bodies such as All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) and Medical Council of India, besides Directorate of Technical Education (DTE) and Directorate of Medical Education and Research (DMER) at the state level.

The Bill further states complaints against unauthorized educational institutions can be registered with government officials of the level of joint director and deputy director of education. They would hear and record grievances, while officials of the level of joint secretary and deputy secretary would be appellate authorities.

Ramesh Unnikrishnan, Regional Director, AICTE (western region), said they had no powers to act against unauthorized educational institutions.

"Though a regulatory body, AICTE was not empowered to act against bogus or unapproved institutions. At our level, we periodically release a list of bogus institutions and institutions running unapproved courses to make stakeholders, especially students and parents, aware," he said.

AICTE now plans to call a council meeting to decide how it will carry out inspections, initiate action and implement norms.

S K Mahajan, Director, DTE, said the law would restrict malpractice and profiteering by institutions offering higher and technical courses.

"The draft was in the public domain for suggestions / objections. It was then sent to the Law and Judiciary department. Finally, it was tabled in the Council Monday and passed," he said.

The Bill seeks stern action, including a hefty fine, for misleading advertisements by educational institutions and ensures framing of guidelines for placing ads.