To tackle the shortage of faculty in technical institutions, All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) is bringing changes in parameters of qualifications for appointment of teachers. While activists cry that it will dilute the educational standards, AICTE visions it to be a contemporary approach of striking a balance between tackling faculty shortage and giving multidisciplinary industry oriented approach to technical education. Colleges however are happy with the changes as it is making it convenient to fill positions.
The AICTE released its approval process Handbook in the last week if January. Taking a review of several aspects of technical institutions, it brings reforms in certain aspects such as faculty appointments, land requirements, accreditations among all. Of these, faculty appointment reforms are experiencing much wrath from activists. These reforms include having 20% visiting faculty who may not have degrees but with industry experience, a candidate who is not masters in engineering but holds equivalent degree in relevant stream in a relevant subject can apply for teaching position.
Vaibhav Narawade, secretary for citizens' forum for sanctity in education system, talking about the changes said, "It is a great disappointment. The new approval process handbook 2016 did not attempt to improve the approval process. On the contrary, AICTE reduced and relaxed some important statuary norms ignoring quality education, especially the industry experience clause will be exploited by institutions as the criterion on experience is not specified. This will further lead to reduction in teaching jobs with colleges relying more on visiting faculties, hampering the quality of education."
Santosh Narayankhedkar, principal of MGM college of engineering, said, "The reforms are welcome. It will allow us strike a good balance of faculty. These new parameter are for visiting faculties coming from industry with huge experience. This will rather be very beneficial to students. More than 70% students go to work in the industry. This will be an opportunity for them to learn new technologies from industry experts."
Suresh Ukrande, former dean of faculty of engineering at the Mumbai University, also appreciated the reforms. He said, "That colleges are facing shortage of faculty is a known phenomenon. The country is not producing as many PhD holders in technology as we require in academics as per the traditional norms. The reform will allow take advantage of industry experts who may not be holding these degrees but have ample experience to educate students."
Chairman of AICTE Dr. A D Sahasrabuddhe, explaining the regulatory body's stand, said, "The relaxation is allowed only for 20% of the faculty members. Colleges will have to fill 80% positions as per prescribed norms over the years. The new reforms will not only help colleges deal with faculty shortages, but will also help bridging gap between industry and academia which has been a raising concern."
Elaborating on the thought, Sahasrabuddhe questioned, "Wouldn't it be more beneficial for an engineering student to know about latest technologies from an industry expert who will be able to present a real time picture in front of students?"
He further said, "Anyways, our faculty members are not up to date with latest industry trends and requirements and then we complain about how our educational system is not able to produce graduates desired by industries."
Giving an expert view on the scenario, Dr. Arun Nigvekar, renowned educationist and former chairperson of University Grants Commission, said, "The reforms are not much about relaxations but bring in interdisciplinary approach to teaching with industry and other relevant subject experts. But, with such reforms, it is difficult to know if institutions are misusing the clauses. In that case, it will hamper the quality of education."