It is just another typical skirmish between two government bodies that brings only harm to some. But since the main sufferer in this case is technical education, it demands the immediate attention of the government. By declaring 116 architectural colleges in the country as “unapproved”, the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) has sent a shiver down the spine of students of those colleges, most of them of long-standing and high repute. Since it is said the announcement was born only out of a trivial bickering between the AICTE and the Council of Architecture (COA), it sounds churlish.
Even if the COA is trying to clarify that the colleges were under its control and that they need no approval of the AICTE, the announcement has caused only confusion in the minds of those associated with architecture education. While it is one thing for a regulatory body like AICTE to pull up an educational institute falling short of standards, it is another to term 116 up and running colleges unapproved without citing exact reasons. Of course, it is common in India for a misunderstanding between two government departments to stall even a key development project. In the normal course, the departments would be allowed to sort out the matter between themselves.
But since the stakes are alarmingly high in this dispute on jurisdiction over colleges, no time can be wasted on allowing the AICTE and COA to settle it themselves. The government should clarify who controls the colleges. If it is the COA, as it claims citing a court order, the AICTE should be asked to keep off and not create doubts in the minds of students and those aspiring to join the colleges. If the AICTE is empowered to “approve” the colleges, then it should come clean on what it found lacking in the 116 colleges warranting the sudden “disapproval”. If the colleges could rectify the lapses, “approval” should be restored to them. But first it must be told unambiguously as to who controls the architecture colleges of India.