Uma Keni Prabhu
The Supreme Court’s decision to free the MBA/MCA courses from the All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE) seems to have raised serious issues regarding the status of Post Graduate Diploma Programs in Management (PGDM) across the country.
While the PGDM institutes` heads insist that the judgment does not specifically mention PGDM courses, they are apprehensive that they might now be brought under the control of the UGC. They are preparing themselves for the eventuality.
Dr Apoorva Palkar, the president, Consortium of Management Education (COME), says guardedly, “There is no policy document that has come from AICTE in this regard. Preventive measures are being discussed but our stand is to maintain the status quo. We are meeting to obtain consensus from everyone to go ahead and take legal opinion to take a call on the status.”
The COME is an alliance of 52 unaided private institutions in the state, and works closely with the national level associations like the Association of Indian Management Schools and Education Promotion Society for India to build consensus over common issues faced by various institutes in the state.
Dr Vijay Khole, former vice chancellor of Mumbai University, however, is more vociferous. “The situation is confusing. AICTE is confused. It says it does not know whether PGDMS are with AICTE or not. This means at present there is no regulator for PGDM programmes.”
Khole says many institutions run both the degree programmes and the diplomas simultaneously. Will these institutes have a dual control of AICTE as well as UGC? What happens then?
Arun Nigavekar, former University Grant Commission chairperson, is in synch with Khole. He says, “Supreme Court should have touched on the subject of PGDM Institutes too. There is bound to be confusion. The Ministry of Human Resource Development should look into this and come out with a statement. They should take a firm stand.”
Educationists now feel this move may well kill PGDM. Approval by AICTE is relevant because it gives you recognition. Once the AICTE tag goes, it will be very difficult to even get students. They say many PGDM institutes cannot fill up seats because there is no approval. They give example of a suburban institute started by graduates from an elite B School a couple of years ago, which has just 50 students for both the first and second year only because it is not recognised.
Meanwhile, PGDM institutes, which are fighting for autonomy under the AICTE framework in the court of law, say they are not opposed to a regulatory body. “We need a regulatory body which promotes high quality of management education. Accredited courses have respect and relevance. How should it regulate is a matter of discussion.”
They, however, want more autonomy in deciding curriculum, making admission on merit, deciding the overall quality of the programme and recruiting qualified faculty.
Educationists fear should they be brought under the UGC control, it may contribute to lowering educational standards in Indian institutions. Crucial decisions will inevitably be delayed, recruitment of appropriate faculty will suffer, and the institutional needs and student needs will be subordinated to those of the vested interests.
“The UGC control has ensured that not a single Indian university finds a place among the top 200 in the world. The quality institutions will be the first to be hit and eventually the student’s interests will suffer,” says Dr Krishna Karmakar, former MD, NABARD now professor, DOCC, SP Jain Institute of Management Studies.
Many echo Dr Karmakar’s sentiments. They say if UGC steps into the MBA/MCA picture, whatever quality remains in our education system will be soon frittered away as the UGC will ensure that courses are not upgraded regularly, exams will be messed up and vested fossilized interests will rule the roost. Moreover, the Syllabus Committee will not be convened in years, fees will not be revised along with market requirement and a rapid decline in standards will be ensured.
“Since we have to have market driven globally acceptable programs we need to upgrade our courses often. But universities change the syllabus every five years. By the time a universities goes through the whole process of changing the syllabus, the scenario has changed. Also to meet global standards like IIMs and ISB, we ought to have a proper fee structure. There is no policy in place for this yet,” says an institution head.
Dr Indu Shahani, member, University Grants Commission, and former Sheriff of Mumbai, opines, “Indian educational institutions have had too much of regulation for too long. They should now come of age and should build responsibility and accountability for the autonomy.” The UGC, she says, should set broad parameters and guidelines within which the Indian institutions should function. They should now focus on employability and excellence.
NIgavekar said, “It is necessary to create uniform legal structure across India. Within this legal structure comes the academic structure and it should be credit based modular structure. This means if one gets a degree by scoring 40 credit points, this same benchmark should be followed through out the country. Then it is up to the universities to be innovative under this framework.”
The PGDMs have another concern. They say universities do not have provisions for conferring the diploma. “Where will they fit our diploma- under the Commerce Faculty? A professor demands to know.”
Pro vice chancellor of Mumbai University Dr Naresh Chandra says, "Their fears are unfounded. A few months ago, the University of Mumbai took a decision to start a separate faculty for management programmes and therefore it will not be under the faculty of commerce."
Naresh Chandra adds, “Who says universities do not confer diplomas? We have several diploma courses namely a diploma in Financial Management, Taxation Laws, Operations Research for Management, Yoga, Human Rights, Labour Laws and Labour Welfare, Forensic Sciences, Diploma in Management Studies (DMS), etc. So this fear is also unfounded."
It is to be noted that the Supreme Court’s order under discussion said, “An MBA course is not a technical course within the definition of the AICTE Act”, and "an approval from the AICTE is not required for obtaining permission and running an MBA course by the appellant colleges. And although MCA was a technical course, the AICTE could not lay down standards. The judges said the role of AICTE is advisory, which means it can prescribe uniform standards of education in affiliated members of a university by sending a note to the University Grants Commission. The judgment was delivered following an appeal by the Association of Management of Private Colleges and a few private colleges in Tamil Nadu.”
Dr Shankar S Mantha, chairman, All India Council for Technical Education, in an exclusive interview to Zee News said:
“The status of PGDM institutes would continue to be what was before the Supreme Court’s order. They were never affiliated to any university anyway unlike the MCA and MBA programs. I would not like to speculate on what the Supreme Court review petition would or would not do.”
“I am happy that everyone realises that there is a `brand value` attached to the AICTE tag. You can’t possibly have the brand and not follow any of the regulators rule position. Like one can’t have the cake and eat it too. The AICTE is more than a regulator. It is a facilitator and an enabler, and the stakeholders include students, parents, society and the industry as much as the managements that conduct these programs.”
“Having said that, we are also saying that the rule position needs to be the same for everyone and all disciplines that are conducted. We believe that the states should do a centralised admission for all programs including, PGDM, and the State Fee Committee should look at the fee that is being charged like they do for all other programs.”
“We had received several complaints on the unfair practices that are being followed and hence to promote fair play we have issued a regulation on this and the PGDM institutes are opposing this. We are now conducting a Common Management Admission Test (CMAT) online to facilitate the students from giving multiple tests, purchasing multiple forms, consequent expenditure and mental agony etc. We had more than 1.6 lakh students registered in the second test and more than 67,000 in the additional test this year. “
“We have also proposed a model curriculum that acts as a bridge like we do for all other courses. This also helps in addressing equivalence issues. They are opposing this as well. Autonomy without responsibility and transparency can be disastrous. Self-regulation is great but cannot be at the cost of exclusion. The disparity in our society is so large that large sections can be completely cut off.”
On UGC, he said, “UGC will eventually have to create an environment that facilitates all forms of education as long as they follow the rule position. Fundamentally PGDM is a creation of the IIM`s since they were not universities themselves and hence could not issue degrees. Though the SC does raise many important issues with far reaching consequences, I would not like to speculate at this point of time as the case is subjudice since we have filed a review petition.”