The state government yet again deferred to Friday a decision on the date for counselling for admission to engineering courses, but armed itself with two ordinances to lasso private colleges that want higher fees but make no commitment to better facilities and faculty.
Under duress from the Supreme Court, the state government had agreed to hike the tuition fees charged by private engineering colleges. It also copped a lot of flak from political parties for capping the fee reimbursement it gives to poor students.
In a just-you-wait move Thursday, the government armed itself with ammo against engineering colleges by issuing two ordinances, amending the AP Educational Institutions Act 1982 and the AP Technological Universities Act 2008. The ordinance would allow the government to conduct surprise inspections of facilities in the colleges, many of which are widely known to be deficient. The draft ordinances were sent to governor E S L Narasimhan this morning and his signature was secured in the afternoon.
The ordinances empower the government to take direct action against deficient colleges instead of requesting universities to inspect and punish. Now, task forces directly under the government’s control will inspect college infrastructure and faculty. Until now, such inspections were the preserve of the All-India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), which conducts pre-announced inspections.
“The government will now have direct control over engineering colleges. Our inspection teams can examine everything in a college, whether it is infrastructure or faculty or canteen or library,” said principal Secretary (higher education) M G Gopal.
The impression in the government is that privat colleges have grown very comfortable in the inspection regime of universities and AICTE, often borrowing faculty from neighbouring colleges for a few days just to pass muster with the AICTE.
With the government busy donning war paint, the counselling process continued to be delayed. The cabinet sub-committee met Thursday morning and but decided to wait for chief minister Kiran Kumar Reddy to be back in Hyderabad Friday evening before making an announcement on the dates for counselling.
Social welfare minister Pitani Satyanarayana indicated that Aug 19 is a likely date for commencement of counselling and hoped there would no further postponement.
In Khammam for the Indiramma Baata programme, Kiran Kumar addressed fears that the interests of the backward class students would be hit by the decision to cap the fee reimbursement at Rs 31,000 per year. “We will not allow any kind of injustice to backward class students. We are only trying to ensure that public money is not frittered away and that it reaches the real beneficiaries,” he told reporters.
The Admissions and Fee Regulatory Committee (AFRC) has estimated that if the Supreme Court orders be implemented, tuition fees in engineering colleges would be driven up to Rs 50,200-1 lakh per student.
At present it is Rs 31,000. Though the government initially wanted to cap the fee reimbursement sceme at Rs 31,000, it has more or less abandoned the idea now in the wake of widespread protests from the student community.
Despited being balked by public opinion, the government still wants to arm itself against errant colleges; therefore the two ordinances. It wants to tell the engineering colleges that they would have to earn the higher tuition fees by investing in infrastructure and faculty.