Technical Education Bill: Gujarat govt quota to be cut down, colleges to take in foreign students

The amendments are in view of the huge number of seats in professional colleges going vacant, even as the government has raised the number of seats in the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) quota.

The Gujarat Professional Technical Educational Colleges or Institutions (Regulation of Admission and Fixation of Fees) bill, which proposes to reduce the number of government reserved seats for professional courses and open direct admissions to foreign nationals as well as students from other states to study in Gujarat, was passed in the Assembly by majority on Wednesday.

The amendments are in view of the huge number of seats in professional colleges going vacant, even as the government has raised the number of seats in the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) quota.

The bill was introduced “in view of the change in the situation of demand and supply of professional courses in the state”. According to the amended bill, government reserved seats for MBA, MCA, Engineering, Architecture and Pharmacy in unaided colleges or institutions have been reduced from 75% in the principal Act to 50%. As per the amendment of the clause (h) of section 2, which talks about management seats, the number of management seats have been increased from 25% to 50%, including 15% of Non-Resident Indian seats, and seats for the Foreign National Students and students from any state, including Gujarat.

The bill also authorises that if any unaided college or institution requests to fill all or any portion of the management seats by the admission committee, such management seats shall be considered as government seats. Also if any government seat or NRI seat remains vacant, then such seat shall be filled as management seat.

“In the past three years, it appears that the aspirant students are lesser against the approved seats in the professional courses in Gujarat State. Therefore, more than 50% of seats of self-financed institutions remain vacant after the admission process is over. Moreover, in the year 2019, additional 25% seats have been increased to implement reservation of EWS. States like Rajasthan and Maharashtra as well as distant states like Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh are allowing students from other states since long. This has strengthened the competition and knowledge aspect of the students in their states. Similarly, in Gujarat, it is also required to increase the pan-India competitiveness among meritorious students…,” the draft read.

The increased seat share under the management quota directly facilitates the admission of foreign national students. As per the amended bill, a new definition of Foreign National Student has been inserted in the section 2 of the principal Act. “Foreign Natio-nal (FN) Student means the student other than Non-Resident Indian (NRI) who possesses a foreign passport and fulfils the equivalency of eligibility requirements ascertained by the competent authority as may be specified by the Ministry of Human Resource Dev-elopment, Government of India, for admission,” the bill states.

This new provision has been introduced to boost the ongoing ‘Study Gujarat Campaign’ and to make Gujarat an education hub, educational experts said.

“Welcoming students from abroad to our state will increase the diversity of students and promote healthy competition. Under the Study Gujarat campaign, we will organise road shows and presentations across 12 cities in different countries and also within different states of our own country. For foreign students, there will be no question of merit, they can directly apply through websites for which relaxations have been given to institutes… New courses are also being introduced, such as Artificial Intelligence, Data Analysis, 3D printing and others,” said AU Patel, former Vice-Chancellor of the Gujarat Technological University and presently the adviser to the Knowledge Consortium of Guja-rat. “Students from other states” in the principal Act has now been substituted with “students from other states and countries”.

Dr Shital Shah, principal, Khyati School of Engineering, Ahmedabad, said, “It is a welcome move as more seats will now be filled. But at the same time, I think that it might affect the quality of education. There is no criteria of merit for the management quota… If we have good students from foreign countries, it will be a good learning experience for the students as well as the teachers.”

The bill also introduces a new body called the GTERS or the Gujarat Technical Education and Research Society. “For quality improvement, creating awareness about professional courses among the students, admission process for professional courses and to conduct various activities pertaining to technical institutions, the education department has set up Gujarat Technical Education and Research Society (GTERS)… the overall supervision of admission process is to be conducted under GTERS,” the bill states.

As an amendment to the section 10 of the Act that talks about Powers of Fee Regulatory Comm-ittee, a new provision states, “… the unaided professional educational college or institution may raise the fee up to five per cent of the existing fee for the fee block upto three years, or make any reduction in the existing fees… However, the unaided professional educational college or institution shall provide a Declaration cum Undertaking… in the form of affidavit…”

The bill also proposes the necessary provision to empower the state government to conduct an inquiry and to impose penalty to any professional educational college or institution, including private university, on receipt of any complaint from any person related to fees irregularities. The penalty amount has been revised from Rs 20 lakh to Rs 50 lakh.

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