Indian Computer Science (CS) & Information Technology (IT) Academic Reform Activism Consolidated Blog Document

Dictatorial Powers of VC in Indian Central Universities

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Dictatorial Powers of VC in Indian Central Universities

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Here's an interesting article by faculty from the University of Delhi (, about the role of Vice Chancellors (VC) in Indian universities today, It contends that the typical Indian VC is one of or seen as "1) the CEO of an academic corporation; 2) an academic or bureaucrat with political connections; 3) a person selected by accident, error or compromise; and 4) an intellectual leader" and that the reality is that "these options are arranged in order of their importance in Indian higher education today".

It goes on to cover dictatorial powers of VCs of central universities,,_India, and how exercise of such power by VCs who are impatient to bring about reform, results in a war like situation in the universities.

I presume the situation will be quite similar in state universities in India,, The other type of universities are private universities and deemed universities which may be receiving limited amount of funding from the state or central government or no funding at all. I presume that the VCs of such universities may typically not have dictatorial powers as the board of management/trustees/visitors of the universities may have direct control over the VC (limited autonomy).

Please note that the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License (CC-BY) does *not* apply to this post.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

UGC scraps Research-linked appraisal for appointments!

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Here is an article, dated Feb. 2013, "Research-linked appraisal for appointments is scrapped",, and given below are some points from the article and my comments.

"India’s University Grants Commission (UGC) has done away with a mandatory requirement for universities to select and promote academics based solely on a performance index that includes scores for research publications and attracting research grants. The decision will affect more than a million university and college lecturers."

[Ravi: So UGC clearly was putting pressure on academics not only for research publications but also for attracting research grants.]

The article mentions that a UGC spokesperson talked about variation in teaching quality and infrastructure across Indian universities which may have made it difficult for the API (Academic Performance Index) proposed to have succeeded.


The article has an Associate Professor from New Delhi complaining that UGC does not have provision for teachers to take up limited teaching loads thereby giving teachers time to do research.

[Ravi: I entirely agree with the point above. By loading academics with 4 courses per semester, lots of administrative & other work, and then denying them promotion because they do not have research publication output or have not procured research grants, IMHO, academic administrators are being extremely unfair, and perhaps even exploitative. Let them lay down the rule that maximum teaching load per academic will be two courses per semester and have a small limit for administrative and other work, make it mandatory for administrators to provide facilities for research, then UGC can make such appointment and promotion rules based on research output. If UGC cannot impose such limits then, IMHO, they have no business to exploit poor academics by denying them promotion or suitable appointment due to lack of research output.]


In the article, another associate professor, from Pune, complained about lack of facilities like (easily available, I presume) Internet connected computers in several colleges in Pune, and that it was difficult to do research in such environments.

[Ravi: Is the UGC listening? First make facilities and time for research mandatory. Otherwise UGC has no right to impose such draconian and unfair rules.]


The article has a professor suggesting that addressing anomalies in the appraisal system would have been better than scrapping it and going back to the earlier system which rarely considered merit for promotions.

[Ravi: Seems a fair point. Promotions should be merit based. But, IMHO, first priority should be given to teaching quality. I don't know whether serious efforts are made to measure teaching quality like efforts made to measure research contribution. As far as I know, measures adopted by corporate training setups like participant/student feedback, are not used in UGC/AICTE academia, in general. In fact, I would not be surprised if the only way teaching quality is measured in most educational institutions in India is by the exam performance of the students. If many students fail something is wrong with the teacher. Otherwise the teacher is good. It really may be as primitive and simplistic as that.]


The article mentioned that the (scrapped) API had certain number of points for refereed journal publications and lesser points for non-refereed journal. It also had points for books published and research grants acquired.

[Ravi: IMHO, ideally there should be two tracks - a teaching intensive track where appointment and promotion are possible with good teaching performance but even with zero research; and a research intensive track where research contribution can be given a lot of importance.]

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Supreme Court rules that AICTE can only advise but not impose sanctions on universities/colleges

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It is common knowledge that the state of technical education in India in UGC/AICTE regulated higher education institutions is, to put it politely, not so great. I thought that AICTE must take some blame for this as they are the key technical education regulator.

But some petitioners challenged AICTE's ability to enforce sanctions (punishment) on educational institutions whose academic standards are not up to AICTE's expectations, in the Indian Supreme Court. And the Supreme Court bench ruled that AICTE can only play an advisory role but not enforce sanctions! So AICTE has essentially been made a toothless tiger. IMHO, in India, toothless tigers can only serve as a butt of ridicule. UGC alone seems to have the ability to enforce sanctions on educational institutions. AICTE may have to write to UGC complaining about standards in some educational institutions and leave it to UGC whether to act by imposing sanctions. The Supreme Court ruling must be based on the acts passed in Indian Parliament related to UGC and AICTE.

Different news articles seem to give slightly different views and with different level of detail.

This one gives just the basic picture, "Varsity affiliated colleges need not take AICTE approval to run MBA, MCA",

BTW, for international readers, MBA is Master of Business Administration (I think that is common internationally), and MCA is Master of Computer Applications (which I think is not so common internationally).

This one gives some more details, "Apex court allows pvt colleges to offer MBA, MCA sans AICTE nod",  Specifically it mentions that the AICTE chairman, Prof. Mantha, is planning to file a review petition in the Supreme Court against the order/ruling. Prof. Mantha seems to be stating that without AICTE having the power to regulate (punish) management education institutions (around 4000 of them in India) and educational institutions offering MCA (around 1600 of them), "unfair trade practices will start proliferating". I take that to mean that the standard of higher education in these places will become even lower than what it is now! Oh Lord!!!

This one does not pull any punches, "AICTE’s Newtonian downfall", It is a detailed article authored by a Dean in an Indian university and ends with a desperate appeal to the Union (Federal) Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) to come to the aid of Indian engineering education!!!

Perhaps MHRD can pass suitable amendments to UGC and/or AICTE acts in Parliament which will give AICTE the teeth to impose sanctions (punishment) on technical higher education institutions which do not meet its academic standards.


Ravi S. Iyer, August 19, 2013 at 1:18 PM

MHRD seems to be trying to give teeth to AICTE by amending the AICTE act according to this article in The Hindu, dated August 17th 2013, Endorse AICTE-approved technical colleges. But, the article states, MHRD's move got stalled by Cabinet Secretariat queries. An ordinance may be moved after Parliament session concludes.

Meanwhile UGC seems to have given go-ahead to universities for approving (granting affiliation to) institutions offering courses (degrees) in technical education that have been approved by AICTE for 2013-14.

Ravi S. Iyer, December 27, 2013 at 8:35 PM

An informative article in The Hindu, For a new avatar of the AICTE, by vice-chancellor of SASTRA university about AICTE history and current travails, dated December 27th 2013.

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