AICTE's nod must for new technical colleges

The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) has written to the vice-chancellors of all the universities to ensure that no technical college, including management institute, is granted affiliation unless it has secured prior approval of the council for the academic year 2014-15.

The letter, issued on May 12th by AICTE chairman S S Mantha, comes in the wake of the Supreme Court's interim orders on April 17th and May 9th, restoring the AICTE's powers to approve new technical institutes or colleges for the year 2014-15.

"Prior approval of AICTE is compulsory and mandatory to conduct a technical course, including the management/MBA course, by an existing affiliated technical college and also new technical college which will require affiliation by a university for conduct of its technical courses/programmes for the year 2014-15," ruled a four-member apex court bench, headed by Chief Justice R M Lodha, on May 9th. The court was hearing a writ petition by the Orissa Technical Colleges Association (OTCA).

The issue of which statutory body should grant approval to new technical colleges was being debated in the wake of the SC's judgment on April 25th, 2013, in the Association of Managements of Private Colleges V/s AICTE case. The SC had ruled that the council's nod was not required for institutes affiliated to universities or for the grant of affiliation to new technical colleges by the universities.

The University Grants Commission (UGC), which regulates higher education in the country, had since come out with draft guidelines for new technical colleges/institutes. While these guidelines are pending final approval by the HRD ministry, the UGC had also declared a one-year moratorium on the sanction of new technical colleges in the fields of engineering and management.

However, after the apex court's interim order in the OTCA case, the AICTE promptly released a notification on May 10th laying down the schedule for submission of pleas for new technical institutions, variation of student?s intake and starting of new courses in existing institutions, closure of courses and change in name of institutes. The online pleas have to reach the council by May 18th and the approval process is expected to be completed by June 3rd.

A day after Mantha's letter, the director of technical education in Maharashtra also issued a notification putting out the online approval process schedule for new technical institutes/colleges in the state.

Mantha's letter states, "Technical education, as defined under AICTE Act, 1987, includes programmes of education, research and training in engineering and technology, architecture, town planning, management, pharmacy and applied arts and crafts. The council has been granting approvals to technical institutes and college requiring affiliation from universities and technical boards."
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