High Court quashes the Rajasthan Pre-Medical Test (RPMT) 2014

Rajasthan High Court has set aside the Rajasthan Pre-Medical Test (RPMT) 2014 and directed the state government to conduct the examination again. A petition was filed by some students challenging the Medical Test alleging discrepancies in the question paper and sought directions for re-examination.

The Petitioners on perusing the answer key notice noticed that there was change in the questions later. Also granting of 4 bonus marks for each wrong question led to huge discrepancy, as candidates appearing in one slot got just 16 bonus marks, whereas those in another, got 76.

State Government admitted in the Court that paper was not proper and expressed their willingness to re-conduct the examination.

The Court therefore allowed the writ petitions filed by the unsuccessful candidates and set aside the result and examination of RPMT-2014.

Maharashtra proposes State Assessment and Accreditation Council

Government of Maharashtra has proposed to set up State Assessment and Accreditation Council to lay down the norms and standards for schools in Maharashtra.

Earlier, in meeting of Experts on 16.04.2014, the subject was discussed and in furtherance thereof, it was decided to constitute a 16 member Committee headed by Education Commissioner, Maharashtra to lay down the road map for preparation of manual for accreditation and constitution of State Assessment and Accreditation Council.

This Committee which has wide range representation including representatives from ICSE, CBSE and IB, which will do a comparative study of norms and standards prevailing in other states and so also of National Assessment and Accreditation Council [NAAC] and will propose standards for schools in Maharashtra.

The Committee will also propose to the Government methodology to create awareness amongst the stakeholders about the assessment and accreditation and benefits which accrue to Institution and Students. The Committee has also been asked to detail the constitution, powers and functions of the proposed State Assessment and Accreditation Council. The Committee will also look into the manpower required and financial implication for operation of the proposed Council. This Committee will submit its report within 1 month.

The Report will then be studied further by an Working Committee of 11 members again headed by Education Commissioner, Maharashtra State, which will prepare the detailed manual regarding the process of assessment and accreditation.

EduLegaL View

Quality of Education, Infrastructure and Facilities to the students has been a major issue in Education System in our Council. Assessment and Accreditation is broadly used for understanding the “Quality Status” of an institution. The process of accreditation involves evaluation of curriculum, teaching-learning methods, faculty, infrastructure, learning resources and student services. This step will certainly help the school education system in Maharashtra in improving the level of education and access to students.

QS University Rankings: BRICS 2014 and Indian Educational Institutions

Twenty Indian educational institutions feature in the latest BRICS ranking and five Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) win places in the top 20. IIT-Delhi, IIT-Bombay, IIT-Kanpur, IIT-Madras and IIT-Kharagpur have made it to the list. IITs are again by far the most successful representatives of the country’s higher education system.

The prestigious IIT Kharagpur has a higher proportion of PhDs among its staff than any university in the five countries, while another three Indian institutions feature in the top five on this measure. On overall staffing levels, only Manipal University appears in the top 100 among the universities of the BRICS countries.

Other educational institutions from India in the list include University of Mumbai, University of Madras, Banaras Hindu University, Manipal University, Birla Institute of Technology and Science, University of Pune, Indian Institute of Information Technology, Calcutta University, Delhi University, Allahabad, Amity University, Anna University and Punjab University.

Source: Press Information Bureau

Now, KYC [Know Your College] in Education Sector

The Union Minister of Human Resource Development, Smt. Smriti Zubin Irani has launched some new initiatives in the field of Education:

KYC – KNOW YOUR COLLEGE:  Large number of Institutes and Universities mushrooming in various parts of the country with no standard facilities or full faculty. Therefore there is need to monitor such Institutes to ensure that they conform to the standards. “Know Your College” drive was proposed so that it would be possible to get the details of Colleges on the website, which would help the students to make correct choices.

RASHTRIYA AAVISHKAR ABHIYAAN: Under this Mission, the Government endeavours to make science interesting for children, system of finding patents and to make parents and communities a part of the innovation realm.

NATIONAL FRAMEWORK OF RANKING OF UNIVERSITIES & COLLEGES: There was need to develop a framework suited to suited to the local conditions, circumstances and requirements.

MASSIVE OPEN ONLINE COURSES (MOOC): The New Government desires to leverage the technology leveraged for empowering the students and teachers. For this, the Ministry proposes to launch a large number of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) and also establish a National e-Library by the end of this year.

UGC directs University to include Mother’s Name in all academic testimonials

UGC it seems is on major social reform through academic and administrative measures. Earlier, UGC had directed all the Universities to include anti-corruption in the academic curriculum. Now it has taken up the issue of Gender Equality.

UGC has now directed all the Universities to include name of Mother in all academic testimonials including Application Forms/Degrees/Certificates issued by the university and affiliated colleges and also requested to ensure compliance with the direction.

Earlier, in 1998, UGC as result of persistent efforts of Dr Amita Ahuja, a joint director with the Institute of Company Secretaries of India has issued similar circular. Dr. Ahuja advocated the inclusion of mother’s name as her contention was that it is the mother who gives birth to the child and participates in his or her development and she should not be subjected to such discrimination. Accordingly to her, asking for father’s name only was against the spirit of women’s empowerment

UGC’s direction to the University will help the children of unwed, divorced or separated mothers, for whom the column marked ‘Father’s Name’ is embarrassing.

UGC directs Universities to award approved nomenclature of degrees

Universities in India on successful completion of any academic program award degrees to the students. The degrees to be awarded to the students are specified by University Grants Commission by virtue of the powers conferred to UGC u/s 22 of the UGC Act, 1956.

The Commission has been, time and again, requesting the Universities to award degrees only within the framework of Section 22 of the UGC Act by adhering to the approved nomenclature of degree(s).

Lately, it has been seen that certain universities/institutions are awarding degrees, which has not been specified by UGC.  Later enforcement of right by a student on basis of unspecified degree to pursue higher academic pursuit or securing employment, leads to court litigations, apart from causing inconvenience to the students conferred with such degrees.

UGC has therefore again requested VCs to ensure that the degrees awarded to the students are in accordance with the provision of Section 22 of the UGC Act, 1956.

However, if a university desires to award a degree other than those specified by the UGC, it shall approach the UGC for its approval six months prior to starting the degree programme with full justification on the course to be started.

Violation of provisions relating to the specification of degrees shall render the defaulting university and its affiliated colleges liable for appropriate action by UGC, including the suspension of grants.

The consolidated list of UGC approved nomenclature of degree(s) for the purpose of Section 22(3) of the University Grants Commission Act, 1956 is available on the official website of UGC.

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Racial and ethnic discrimination may be included under Ragging

In recent years, educational campuses in India have seen increase of incidents of discrimination on grounds of particular regional origin, caste origin more particularly against Northeast students. Former HRD minister MM Pallam Raju during his regime had requested UGC to consider including racial discrimination against students, especially from northeast India, as ragging.

Earlier, Supreme Court taking cognizance of menace of ragging has constituted Raghavan Committee to give specific recommendations to effectively prevent ragging in educational institutions.

The Supreme Court appointed committee to curb the menace of ragging is actively considering including cases of racial and ethnic discrimination under definition of expression “ragging”

However, the Committee is seeking legal opinion on this issue before the definition of ragging is expanded / amended to include “act of racial discrimination”.

Ragging generates a sense of shame or torment or embarrassment and adversely affects the physique or psyche of a student. Effective measures were required to curb the menace of ragging to ensure healthy, physical and psychological development of all students.

University Grants Commission acting under its power conferred u/s 26 of the of UGC Act, 1956 and also in view of the directions of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the matter of “University of Kerala v/s. Council, Principals, Colleges and others” in SLP no. 24295 of 2006 dated 16.05.2007 and that dated 8.05.2009 in Civil Appeal number 887 of 2009 with the object to prohibit, prevent and eliminate the scourge of ragging had issued Regulations in the year 2009, namely UGC REGULATIONS ON CURBING THE MENACE OF RAGGING IN HIGHER EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS, 2009.

UGC appoints Committee to assess C Category Deemed Universities

In furtherance of the directives of the Hon’ble Supreme Court dated 21stJanuary 2014 in Writ Petition No: 142 of 2006 [Viplav Sharma v/s Union of India], UGC has decided to constitute a 4 member Committee to undertake assessment of the 41 Category ‘C’ Institutions Deemed to be Universities.

The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India while hearing the petitions challenging the findings of Tandon Committee in its Order dated 21st January 2014 had directed UGC to examine all the reports concerning Deemed Universities including Report of Tandon Committee, Report of the Officers of MHRD and so also of UGC. It also directed UGC to grant hearing to the affected Deemed Universities and thereafter decide on the status of C Category Deemed Universities within 8 weeks from the date of the Order.

UGC had later sent questionnaires to the C Category Deemed Universities and sought report from all the concerned Universities. UGC also approached Supreme Court to invoke its powers under Regulation 16 and 17 of the UGC [Institutions Deemed to be Universities] Regulations, 2010 and sought extension of time as laid down in Order dated 21st January 2014. The Apex Court in its Order dated 5th May 2014 granted UGC time till 31st July to submit report in respect of C Category Deemed Universities.

UGC while discussing this issue on 13th June 2014 decided to constitute a Committee comprising of 1. Prof. H. Devaraj, Vice-Chairman, UGC … Chairman 2] Prof. Sanjay Dhande, Member, UGC … Member 3] Prof. V.S. Chauhan Member, UGC … Member and 4] Mrs. Amita Sharma, Additional Secretary … Member (as nominee of the MHRD) to undertake assessment of the 41 Category ‘C’ Institutions Deemed to be Universities.

All the 41 C Category Deemed to be Universities shall appear before the Committee to make a video presentation of their institution and to respond to any queries. The Commission will assess the presentation of each Deemed to be University and arrive at reasoned conclusion.

EduLegaL View:

Is UGC doing the same mistake, as was done by Tandon Committee? The main allegation against Tandon Committee was that it was an ARM CHAIR REPORT prepared on basis of Power Point Presentation and Speech Skills and not inspection / visit to the Campus of the Universities. UGC had approached Supreme Court seeking extension of time with the plea to inspect the Deemed Universities. Where is that inspection? UGC should inspect the Campuses and then submit a Report. A Report prepared on basis of Power Point Presentation and Speech Skills generally cannot reflect the true position.

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Inclusion of ‘Anti-Corruption’ curriculum in Higher Education Institutions

Ministry of Human Resource Development, Department of Higher Education, Government of India in order to strengthen participation and to combat corruption in its every form has considered for the inclusion of the subject “anti-corruption” in the curriculum and also for carrying out the research work in this field in the Higher Educational Institutes.

The Ministry has accordingly directed all the Universities to consider inclusion of anti-corruption in the curriculum of relevant subjects like Law, Public Administration, Human Rights etc.

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All India Pre Medical Test upper age limit challenged in Delhi High Court

An MBBS aspirant has approached Delhi High Court challenging the upper age limit of 25 years for appearing in the All India Pre-Medical Entrance Test (AIPMT).

According to the current eligibility criteria, a candidate has to be maximum 25 years old on December 31 of the year the examination is held. The All India Pre-Medical Test is conducted by CBSE.

It has been urged in the Petition that upper age limit has not been prescribed by MCI and therefore CBSE, an examination conducting authority cannot fix the same as its role is limited to conducting the examination and has no statutory function to lay down eligibility conditions.

It is also urged that the concerned statute, Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 or any regulation made thereunder does not prescribe any upper age limit and hence restriction on upper age limit by prescribing such restriction in Information Brochure issued by CBSE is not legal and proper.

In light therefore it is stated before the Court that such restriction being unreasonable is violative of Fundamental Right of a citizen to pursue his freedom to choose profession of his choice, which is guaranteed under Article 19 of the Constitution of India.

On hearing the Petition, though Delhi High Court refused to pass any interim order, has sought response from the Central Government, Medical Council of India (MCI) and CBSE.

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