Tuesday, August 14, 2001, Chandigarh, India



Duping students with dubious degrees

One of the reasons that India has so many scams is because the public and the government are passive observers even when they know something wrong is about to happen. Everybody waits until it is too late and then they bemoan the fact that they were victims. PTU enrolled students for degrees such as M.Sc. (IT) which are to be conducted by study centres.

At the time of enrollment PTU did not even have a developed courseware or teaching staff in place. In addition they did not have clearance from the regulatory authorities. The entire concept was put together in two months, a record of sorts, for an institution that usually takes months for other tasks. Even the course content was assembled within a month by two franchisee study centres obviously by copying. PTU knew that it is launching a programme that has serious shortcomings and was totally unbecoming of a respected educational institute.

However, certain people in the Punjab Government and PTU sensed an opportunity to make money and they decided to enrich themselves at the cost of hundreds of students who are about to become victims of India’s latest scam.

PTU is relying on two basic assumptions, the first one is that once the courses start, they will not be stopped. At that time PTU will plead for welfare of the students and even go to court on the same basis and no judge will have the nerve to say that students who are foolish enough to enroll in such courses get what they deserve. PTU knows that the problem exists only till they get started, once they start the victims will be the justification on the basis of which they should be allowed to go on. I am sure that PTU knows this will work because this ploy has been used successfully by one of the study centres in Jalandhar, Netbrainz, when their previous franchisee was revoked. More than a year ago the same company was in the news when its Director beat up a student when the students agitated against the substandard education that was being provided to them.


The second assumption is that there are enough people willing to become victims, students who did not deserve admission to certain streams are being given a back-door entry, thus even eroding the value of the degree for those students who have gained the same or equivalent based on merit. The study centres may be laughing their way to the bank this year, but next year the situation may be different. It is foreseen that over 60% of the students will fail after the first year because these students will not be able to pass the exam, if conducted properly.

The IT industry will never accept these students and the placement rate will be dismal. Poorly qualified faculty’s capabilities will be reflected in the students. It is simply impossible to find qualified instructors for so many locations within such a short time period. They only advertised for the posts three weeks ago. Eventually, M.Sc students will be taught by BAs/B.Scs or at best an odd MCA who accepted the position of an instructor since they could not find jobs as software developers. It is common knowledge that “those who can, do, those who cannot, teach.”

Hopefully, someone would file a PIL against this madness before the “student welfare” clause gets invoked. Punjabi University saw the PTU bandwagon raking in money so they too dropped the veneer of a respectable university and decided to join in. Thank God, PU has some ethics, although I can image that the temptation among the decision-makers must have been strong.

The state government certainly will not do anything to stop this. The Technical Education Minister’s son is said to have hatched this conspiracy jointly with PTU’s VC and Director of the Outreach program. That is why Mr Garcha even had a press conference to defend PTU.

Everybody is focused on making a quick killing and the students are willing victims as this fraud will give them an “easy degree,” something that they could not have attained otherwise. And we, the people, will look on and shake our head at how corrupt our country has become without realising that it is we who tolerate and accept this corruption. Maybe we deserve what we get!

A concerned citizen

Role of moneybags: Punjab Technical University has, through an advertisement, announced admission to 390 seats for the degree in pharmacy in nine colleges of Punjab.

My daughter being a candidate, I visited three colleges. The revelation is shocking and brings under suspicion the working of PTU and the All India Council of Technical Education.

In all there are nine colleges, two of these being government run at Amritsar and Hoshiarpur. All these colleges were earlier giving two years diploma in pharmacy and have been upgraded for degree in B.Pharmacy very recently.

While the Punjab government has kept an annual fee at Rs 37,000 for "free" seats, the private colleges are charging about Rs 65,000. For paid seats the fee is Rs 70,000 which, after including other charges, may go up to Rs 1 lakh per annum. The 10-page broucher being given by PTU is priced at Rs 400, but does not give any information about the colleges except the location and respective seats. Nothing is mentioned about infrastructure, teaching faculties and facilities in the different colleges.

Both the government colleges have yet to take steps for upgradation though the sessions started on August 2. The private colleges’ plight is worse. A few colleges are housed in very small rooms. There are no laboratories meeting the needs of a degree course. The college at Patti does not give the impression of a nursery school even.

After spending about Rs 1 lakh per annum, is the student not entitled to quality education in terms of teaching faculties, laboratories and other amenities commensurate with the level of the course?


Dhalli tunnel at Shimla

The Dhalli tunnel at Shimla is in bad shape. This tunnel is the only link between Shimla and the upper areas. Thousands of vehicles pass through this tunnel every day.

For the past many days the road inside this tunnel has been in a pitiable condition and is full of holes. Driving on it is a nightmare. Has anyone thought of the impression tourists carry with them?


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