New AICTE SFR rule brings in uncertainty for teachers

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AICTE’s decision to reduce the student faculty ratio to 1:15 from the earlier 1:20 may have lessened the burden on the private college management, but the move has left over a lakh private college faculties in the lurch.

The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE)’s change in rules on the student faculty ratio, which was brought out in December 2017, was seen as a welcome move and was supposed to bring in a major relief for the engineering students.

Anil Sahastrabuddhe, chairman AICTE had said, “Most colleges only teach and hardly indulge in research. The workload was calculated with the revised curriculum and 1:20 ratio was found to be more than enough. Since we insisted on a 1:15 ratio, several institutes were giving false data. Some that were maintaining this ratio were not paying full salary to the faculty. AICTE, therefore, decided to take the decision based on need, ethics and quality.”

This rule applies to private and self-financing engineering colleges for BE, B Tech, B Arch, MBA, MCA and hotel management courses.

Now this new rule has backfired. While it may have lessened the burden on the private college management, this move has left over a lakh private college faculties in the lurch.

They are living in uncertainty fearing job loss any time.

According to the All India Private Colleges Employees Union, an ‘online community’ for teachers, professors and other non-teaching employees of private educational institutions all over India, one lakh qualified engineering professors (all of them are post graduates in engineering / sciences & humanities) working under the existing 1:15 ratio, shall be removed from their present employment in private/self-financing engineering colleges all over the country.

AIPCE argues that countries all over the world are aiming at reducing the ratio (increasing the staff members strength) since the ratio is said to be the foremost factor in deciding the quality of education from elementary schools to post-doctoral levels.

In a petition to the PMO, AIPCE says, “Existing staff may be threatened to work for less salary, fearing removal just as their pals who were sent out on the pretext of change in the faculty–cadre ratio. Ultimately, the nation will lose its greatest wealth of technically qualified human resources along with mass unemployment of M.E/M.Tech/Ph.D/M.Ed /M.Phil degree holders who have ample experience in teaching.”

On March 1, another association, The Private Educational Institutions Employees Association (PEIEA) of Tamil Nadu, (along with other self-financing college teachers’ associations of Telangana) had filed a PIL for stay and withdrawal of AICTE’s new faculty-student ratio of 1:20.

However, on March 14, the Supreme Court did not dismiss the case, but asked PEIEA to withdraw. The two Judges’ SC Bench said that, the petitioners can approach AICTE again and refile a fresh writ if AICTE fails to correct.

The SC Bench observed, “It is purely an academic matter. Learned counsel has rightly prayed for withdrawal of the writ petition with liberty to approach respondents. Statement is placed on record. The writ petition is dismissed as withdrawn.”

The Apex Court believed that the AICTE (under the purview of MHRD) is the educational policymaker of the Government, and the court stays away from the opinion of AICTE (or steers clear of policy decisions of the Government).

The private-college employee unions have now decided to approach the apex court again.

“Last time, we had to withdraw the PIL because the Chief Justice refused to hear it. This time we are hopeful of positive action,” KM Karthik, founder of (AIPCEU) said.

According to AIPCEU, “The general rule is that faculty members with less experience should be terminated, but the managements are forcing even those with 15 to 20 years of experience to resign, or are just handing them pink slips. The catch is that they will hire new staff at a lower pay. It is evident that for these managements running a college is nothing but a business.”

AIPCEU has also requested for the provisions of The Trade Unions Act 1926 to be made available for all the teachers/professors (teaching & non-teaching) working in private educational institutions (colleges/ schools/others) throughout the country.

“Separate national-level welfare boards (or directorates) are also needed for private-school employees and private -ollege employees to look into our grievances and support us. Presently, the teaching community is at the mercy of God,” it wrote in the petition to the PMO.

 

 

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