A petition has been filed before the Kerala High Court challenging the decision of the All-India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) to allow engineering colleges imparting B.Tech degree courses to be converted to institutions providing technical education in absence of any clear-cut guidelines for such colleges which will leave the students in limbo.
The petition has been filed by Dijo Kappen, who has held several important offices, including Kerala University Academic Council Member and senate member, and impleads the AICTE, APJ Abdul Kalam Technological University (KTU) and Director of Technical Education.
The petition came up before a bench of Acting Chief Justice Antony Dominic and Justice Dama Sheshadri Naidu, which directed the respondents to take instructions on the issues so raised.
Advocate Santhosh Mathew argued that the petitioner is aggrieved by the decision taken by AICTE and KTU to permit colleges imparting B.Tech degree courses to be converted to technical institutions offering technical programmes, without conducting a proper study about the need of more educational institutions imparting technical course in Kerala.
He relied on AICTE’s Approval Process Handbook for the year 2018-19 which talks about grant of approval through a single application for conversion of diploma level into degree level and vice-versa.
It is to be noted that there are altogether 118 colleges offering under-graduate courses for Engineering and Technology in the unaided private sector.
Dijo submitted that on the commencement of a college, an affidavit is signed by the institution along with the application submitted to the KTU for affiliation.
Due to inferior quality of infrastructure provided in various engineering colleges, a large number of seats were lying vacant but the data is not made available on KTU’s website, he claimed.
The petition said the management of Pinnacle School of Engineering and Technology, Anchal, Kollam, sent a letter to KTU informing their inability to conduct B.Tech programme as per the guidelines of AICTE, based on which the university in December last year decided to grant transfer to first and fifth semester students of that institution to other affiliated institutions of their choice.
Similar was the case with a “large number of Engineering Colleges which are taking steps to stop the B.Tech programmes and after transferring the students to other self financing colleges, steps are being taken by such Institutions to convert the Colleges into Technical Institution offering technical programmes”.
The petitioner said the Kerala High Court had in year 2011, on a petition filed by Ernakulathapan Charitable Trust, issued various directions to the state government to improve the state of affairs of engineering colleges. An expert team was ordered to be constituted to conduct inspection in all the engineering colleges in the state and submit reports and also restricted further affiliations.
“It is due to the indiscriminate permission granted by the AICTE, universities in the State of Kerala and the state government that 118 engineering colleges were permitted to be established in the State of Kerala, in the self-financing sector. A perusal of the percentage of pass would reveal that many engineering colleges are having a pass percentage of less than 25%. This makes it crystal clear that the Institutions were functioning without proper instructional and infrastructural facilities. By permitting the engineering colleges to shut down without any clear-cut guidelines students of such institutions which are planning to close down are left high and dry and are forced to run from pillar to post to get admission in other self-financing colleges,” the petitioner said.
The petitioner now sought direction to the government to first formulate clear-cut guidelines before permission is granted to engineering colleges to stop the existing B.Tech courses and convert the same to diploma courses.
As an interim relief, he has sought direction to the state government and the KTU to conduct a detailed study of the existing instructional and infrastructural facilities of the 118 engineering colleges imparting B.Tech degree course and submit a report before the high court.
Other interim reliefs prayed for include direction to the respondents “to ensure that the Institutions which are closed down due to lack of instructional and infrastructural facilities are not granted permission to start new courses, including technological programmes, without obtaining permission of the court and that the AICTE furnishes a list of new applications received for conversion of B.Tech courses to diploma courses for the academic year 2018-19”.