Five of DU's B.Tech courses under the FYUP banner will finally get the AICTE approval after almost a year-long delay.
In a fresh order to the Delhi University (DU) authorities, the Minister of Human Resource Development, Smriti Irani, has requested the university to go through the requisite All-India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) approvals for their B.Tech courses without any delays. Degrees of close to six thousand students, enrolled in various B.Tech programmes in the twenty-five Delhi University (DU) colleges since 2013, have been hanging in balance for close to a year now.
The five four-year B.Tech programmes – in electronics, computer science, food technology, instrumentation electronics, and polymer science – were launched as part of Delhi University’s controversial four-year undergraduate programme (FYUP) during the 2013-14 academic session. These programmes did not have the required approvals from the AICTE, which is the authority on all public technical colleges in India. This is because these courses, introduced under the much-hyped FYUP banner by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) under the former United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, were scrapped in 2014 after interventions from the University Grants Commission (UGC).
No Confusion over the AICTE approval
As per law now, AICTE approval is a mandatory requirement for technical degree giving colleges according to the Supreme Court orders of April 17, 2014 and May 09, 2014. In the last Rajya Sabha session, Smriti Irani said in a statement that copies of these circulars were sent to all DU colleges as early as June 2014. These two orders by the Supreme Court were a reversal of its position in 2013, when a judgment, dated April 25, 2013, stripped AICTE of its regulatory powers.
February 20, 2015 is the last date to apply for approvals from the AICTE. The fact that the approvals come at a time when only three days are left before the status of the six thousand degrees is put under risk is a dire scene. The principal of one of colleges under requests for anonymity told the press that “It was in April 25, 2013, that the SC stripped AICTE of its regulatory powers and vested it with UGC. FYUP was introduced during that time and six branches of the existing three-year B.Sc (Honours) courses – computer science, electronics, food technology, instrumentation electronics, polymer science and psychological science – were changed to four-year B.Tech programmes with some modifications in syllabus. That’s why the need for AICTE approvals was not felt then.”
Student and university council efforts lead to breakthrough
Swift action by students, and the academic and executive council of DU over the last two weeks has finally ended this long scuffle and the students have been ensured that they will not have to stand on shaky ground with respect to the status of their degrees. The student-led protest that started on February 09, 2015 outside the Vice Chancellor’s office was followed by a large rally of hundreds of students at Jantar Mantar in the capital on February 12, 2015. Following the protest, student representatives were selected and met with the Minister of HRD to put forward their concerns and requests. The Minister showed concern over the delay by the DU authorities. She spoke to the Secretary of Higher Education to resolve the issue as soon as possible, which led to the new order to get approvals before the February 20 deadline.
After the four year programme rollback, UGC had given special permission to DU to continue the five branches of the B.Tech programmes but only for students who were admitted for the programme during the academic year 2013-14. The UGC directive is in line with the recommendation of its Standing Committee, which suggested that the programme should continue in the four-year format for the students already admitted so that there is no damage to their interests. These colleges were also asked to seek AICTE approvals to continue to offer valid degrees after completion of the course.
A spokesperson from the Delhi University Teachers Association told the press that the university has been trying to dodge its responsibility and was passing the buck to individual colleges. However, the new order clearly puts the onus of the AICTE approvals on the DU administration and the students and teachers are hopeful that the issue will soon be solved for good.
Smriti Irani, in a statement earlier this week, said that the FYUP did not have legal sanction. She however showed hope for the now scrapped four-year concept for undergraduate courses by saying that the programme will also be examined afresh under the proposed New Education Policy (NEP) of the NDA government.