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B-schools upbeat with HC verdict on AICTE

B-schools upbeat with verdict on AICTE
The Orissa High Court has granted a stay on the recent All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) circular, which pressed for sweeping changes in the business education space. The AICTE notification dated December 28, 2010, had not only placed a cap on the fees charged by AICTE-affiliated MBA colleges across the country, but also made it mandatory for all admission processes to be conducted by the respective state machineries.

What was most shocking about the AICTE circular was that XAT as an entrance exam was barred from the list of approved entrance examinations. The circular stated that only CAT and MAT were to be used as entrance examinations.
The case in the Orissa Court was filed by a consortium of B-schools from Orissa and other eastern states. According to P Pal, president of the Association of Indian Management Schools (AIMS), the stay (till March 28) is a victory for the business schools. “It means that b-schools can now go ahead with their regular admission processes," said Dr Pal.

The AICTE notification came as a shock to business schools across the country. Dr Pal said that his association has been forced to take legal help to solve the matter. Dr Pal said, “We have had talks with the AICTE and the Human Resources Development minister Kapil Sibal but there is not much progress on that front. If nothing works to our advantage till next Thursday, we will file a petition in Supreme Court on Friday, February 11. We have already sought the services of eminent lawyer K Venugopal."

AIMS had also sent letters to both Sibal and AICTE but nothing has come out of it.

The controversial notification was issued bang in the middle of the MBA admission season and with the GDPI sessions of various B-schools having already started, it is sending admission processes haywire everywhere. B-school directors do not know whether to go ahead with the admissions or not. Strangely, although many B-schools are ganging up to file the legal suit, not many want to speak about it officially, fearing repercussions if the end-result does not go their way.

Suresh Ghai, Director of KJ Somaiya Institute of Management Studies and Research in Mumbai, is one of the few who was willing to stick his neck out. He said that he does not know what course of action to take for his institute"s GDPI. “I have no idea what to do. Do I conduct the GDPI or does the state government body do it? There is just no clarity."

A spokesman from another B-school said that the AICTE"s circular is as ambiguous as it is unfair.
“The circular does not state anything clearly. By saying that entrance exams such as CAT/MAT are allowed, is it saying that others are not allowed? If so, why use the word such as at all, just say it directly."

PaGaLGuY had earlier spoken to the Director of Xavier Labour Relations Institute, Jamshedpur, Fr E Abraham, about the fact that the notification excluded XAT from its list of permitted B-school entrance exams. Fr Abraham had quoted an older AICTE decision passed in 2007, which said that 'Admissions to MBA/PGDM (or equivalent) programmes, shall be through one of the five (5) All India Tests, namely - CAT (conducted by IIMs), JMET (conducted by IITs), MAT (conducted by AIMA), ATMA (conducted by AIMS) and XAT (conducted by XLRI). All institutions admitting students on all India basis will have to opt for one these All India Entrance Tests."
Apparently, the case to include XAT is being reviewed by the AICTE.

Dr Prabhat Kumar Sahoo, Director and Regional Officer of AICTE, Western Region justified the notification. “These changes have been initiated to clean up the system. There are b-schools charging just about anything they want as fees and also offering sub-standard education. It is high time these institutes fall in line and quality comes into the system. This is being done to benefit the students. Anything upto Rs 2 lakhs is fair enough to be charged as fees," said Dr Sahoo.

However, it is this line of thought that has got the b-schools all worked up. Explains another Director of a B-school, “To  punish those schools which are spoiling the system, why does every other b-school have to be put through this. Why can"t AICTE just tackle those b-schools which are slipping up on quality and let the rest of the schools do their own thing?"

The Director adds, “With paltry fees, one cannot attract good faculty and install qualitative systems and build up infrastructure in colleges. The AICTE wants to regulate fees taken by b-schools when it does not regulate the fees taken by the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs). The IIMs are allowed to charge whatever they want and secure all the possible international partnerships, while other b-schools have to follow the rules."

Coming to the immediate issue of GDPIs which have begun in many B-schools, Dr Sahoo said that the B-schools can approach their state government"s Directorate of Technical Education (DTE) or the equivalent body directly and sort out the ambiguity. When asked what a B-school like KJ Somaiya should do, Dr Sahoo replied, “Somaiya can go ahead with its GDPI. We have no issue with it. Only that the b-school has to discuss its fees and other issues with Maharashtra"s DTE. Once these are discussed, the GDPIs can go on as usual."

More than anything, B-schools are irked with the timing of the notification as it asks for all the changes to be effective from the year 2011. The least that the AICTE could have done is asked for these changes to be effective from next year so that the intervening months could have been spent in discussing and analysing the notification. In the present context, if one were to take the notification at face value, this year"s XAT exam is not valid and the ongoing GDPIs of various other AICTE affiliated schools stand null and void.

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