The Union Cabinet approved the official amendment to the Prohibition of Unfair Practices in Technical Educational Institutions, Medical Educational Institutions and Universities Bill, 2010 based on the recommendations of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on HRD for consideration of the Parliament.
The Bill aims to provide an institutional mechanism for preventing, prohibiting and punishing unfair practices in technical and medical educational institutions and universities. The object is to curtail the element of profiteering in some institutions which are presently beyond the scope of any such regulation. The institutions are also expected to mandatorily disclose information related to admission process by publication of its prospectus. This would bring about public accountability of such institutions and act as a check on use of unfair practices being adopted vis-a-vis students.
The provisions of mandatory disclosure of information related to the admission process and holding the institution accountable in respect of compliance with such information is an innovation over the inspection based regulatory processes normally adopted. The student or any other stakeholder can move the tribunal as well as the competent criminal court of law in case the institutions attempts to adopt unfair practices and the burden of proof would be upon the institution.
The students would stand to benefit by enactment of a legislation to curb unfair practices in admission and other areas of higher educational institutions, who are exposed to the prevalence of distortions in the admission process leading to harassment and extortion of students for admission.
Prompt and effective deterrent action is constrained in the absence of any Central law prohibiting capitation fee and other unfair practices. While the current policy in higher education is to promote autonomy of institutions, adoption of unfair practices by misusing autonomy would be detrimental for the credibility of the higher education sector. It would be in public interest to balance autonomy of higher education institutions with measures to protect the interests of students and others accessing higher education.
(i) There has been an unprecedented growth in higher education in recent years, of which the growth of higher professional education, especially technical and medical education has been mainly through private participation. The current national policy supported by several judicial pronouncements is against commercialization of higher education, though the policy encourages private “note for profit” participation with surplus revenues to be ploughed back for growth and development of institutions.
(ii) There is public concern that technical and medical educational institutions, and universities should not resort to unfair practices, Such as charging of capitation fee and demanding donations for admitting students, not issuing receipts in respect of payments made by or on behalf of students, admission to professional programmes of study through non-transparent and questionable admission processes, low quality delivery of education services and false claims of quality of such service through misleading advertisements, engagement of unqualified or ineligible teaching faculty, forcible withholding of certificates and other documents of students.
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