Ban beauty shows in educational institutions: HC

It is not known as to how ‘Walking the ramp’ will benefit an engineering student

The Madras High Court has directed the authorities to ban beauty shows or any programme in educational institutions that is conducted to decide the best-looking male/female student.

“It is not known as to how ‘Walking the ramp’ will benefit an engineering student,” Justice T.S.Sivagnanam wondered and directed the higher education officials to issue a circular immediately to all institutions and universities in the State to ban or not to conduct any beauty shows at the inter-collegiate level.

He was passing the interim directive till issues such as whether the universities exercised due care and control over such programmes, whether any guidelines had been issued or how the funds were administered were considered.

In a writ petition in 2013, Lakshmi Suresh of R.A.Puram submitted that her daughter, P.S.Akshaya, was studying first year B.E then had participated in the event “Mr and Ms TECHOFES 13”. She was not given the prize advertised and assured. She was given a Certificate of Appreciation in which the signatures were forged.

In the petition, filed through counsel S. Sathyanarayanan, she sought a direction to the Dean of Anna University and the organisers of a cultural event “TECHOFES” in February 2013 to pay a compensation of Rs.5 lakh for violation of her daughter’s fundamental right and for the treatment meted out to her.

“A serious issue has been brought to the notice of this court by way of this writ petition,” the Judge observed.

The programme was held on the Anna University premises.

It could not be stated that the university officials were not aware of various events. The petitioner had brought to the court’s knowledge about the unpleasant turn of events faced by her daughter.

In a strong order, Mr.Justice Sivagnanam said the issue raised could not be decided, more particularly whether the claim for payment of compensation was maintainable, unless all the respondents had filed their counter-affidavit.

“However, one issue which is a matter of concern is whether at all such an event – that is, to select the best looking male/female student is required to be conducted in a cultural event, that too organised by a century-old engineering college, established and administered by the government.”

Fanciful prize money was being advertised as several corporate giants funded the programme.

The larger question would be the need for such a programme in cultural festivals, he said, issuing interim directives to prevent any unpleasant event till the final orders are passed.

He posted the matter for filing of counter on February 20.

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IIM Trichy wins Annual CFA Institute Research Challenge

CHENNAI: IIM Trichy has won the national round of the 8th Annual CFA Institute Research Challenge in India.

The team will now compete for the Asia Pacific finals to be held in Manila, the Philippines, on March 11 and 12.

The team from IIM Trichy, comprising of Ankur Lal, Ajit Kumar, Bhanu Putumbaka, Gourab Biswas and Georgy K Joseph, were adjudged unanimous winners at the national round, held in Mumbai on February 2.

The other finalists in the national round included SP JAIN from west zone, IIFT Delhi from east zone, SCMHRD from central zone and IIM Shillong from north zone.

The teams had to present an equity research report on the given company, before an eminent panel of judges comprising of senior finance professionals.

The CFA Institute Research Challenge, considered the investment Olympics, saw more than 3,700 plus students from 825 plus universities worldwide in the local rounds of the competition this year.

In India, it is conducted at the five zonal levels, with 47 of the country’s best management institutes participating.

Colleges woo students with integrated courses

CHENNAI: Chennai-based B-school, Great Lakes Institute of Management (GLIM), is setting up a university to offer integrated programme in engineering and management.

Spread over 30 acres, the Great Lakes University in Sri City is expected to commence its academic year in 2017. Its first batch will have 180 students and full time faculty of 40 professors.

“During the first four years, students would do course work in industrial engineering, electronics and computer science. In the fifth year, there would be a management programme,” GLIM founder and dean Bala V Balachandran said.

He added the programme would be industry-relevant. “We believe in money value of time and hence this offering,” Balachandran said.

The total cost of the project is around Rs 100 crore. “Over 50% of it would be funded through internal accruals. We would also look for partnerships. The land would be available to us on a subsidized basis as we are planning to take a long lease,” Balachandran said.

GLIM has two campuses in Manamai, Chennai and one in Gurgaon.

The university would offer an integrated degree. “This university in Sri City would be a state university (Andhra Pradesh) so that would allow greater flexibility in course curriculum. The final degree would to similar to ones offered by institutes like BITS Pilani,” GLIM executive director S Sriram said.

GLIM is among many reputed institutions, which have devised a unique engineering-management curriculum to suit market requirements.

VIT University (in Vellore) has started offering a double major in engineering from 2012-13 onwards. The first batch is expected to graduate by 2015 or 2016 as it’s a flexible system.

“It was noticed that many engineering graduates seek their second degree in management. Hence we decided to offer a combined degree that a student can pursue (by putting into proper use of his or her free time like summer and winter vacations),” VIT University founder and chancellor G Viswananthan said.

But many such courses are yet to receive approval from regulatory agencies like All India Council for Technical Education or University Grants Commission (UGC), which has laid down norms for integrated courses.

Under UGC, an institute can start such a programme provided it ensures the syllabus is not compromised more than 20%.

“Integrated programmes offered by universities may claim to have complied with the norms and have syllabus as per market needs, but my analysis shows most institutions fail to do so,” said J P Gandhi, an educational consultant.

In case the course offers an exit option after three or four years depending on the undergraduate stream, then the UGC Gazette in 2014 says the total duration of the course should be equal to the sum of the course period of the UG and PG courses.

While most universities and colleges have either stopped the integrated course or have amended the programme, some IITs and NITs are yet to follow the rule.

Not many willing to recruit integrated graduates

COIMBATORE: The popularity of integrated courses is high among students abroad and now they are gaining acceptance here as well.

Apart from the engineering-management combo, there are undergrad-postgraduate programmes in medical nanotechnology, big data management, mathematics etc on offer.

The trend may well catch on provided universities and colleges tailor courses to suit the needs of potential recruiters or to develop expertise in specific fields.

Sastra University, for instance, has an MTech in medical nanotechnology, which is a five-year integrated programme.

Vellore Institute of Technology, Amrita University, Anna University and other state varsities have integrated programmes in niche areas.

The choice ranges from big data management to English and mathematics. But the danger is the idea of an integrated programme may turn into a fad which is copied with no thought for its consequences.

Mallik Sundharam, regional director, ELS Education Services, said, “The need for integrated programmes is rising. While universities are coming up with programmes to suit Indian markets, they are also adapting to foreign cultures…I have seen institutions in Bengaluru adapting to international standards. And their performance is pleasing.”

Some institutions are certainly analysing market and industry requirements before designing such courses. “Syllabus of the two courses are integrated carefully, making sure no essentials are missed out. Subjects are added or deleted based on market needs,” Mallik said. “For example, a blend of computer science and electronics is preferred by many students as it helps them understand industry trends better.”

S Vaidhyasubramaniam, dean, planning and development, Sastra University said, “Integrated courses come with innovation, but the best innovation in all these courses is time. A student completes both bachelors and masters in one programme.” He said universities and institutes are also trying to innovate in a way that students, who pursue integrated programs, can thereafter adapt to research through a PhD.

However, there are some drawbacks as well to the business of integrating undergraduate and postgraduate courses. One that most universities face is the recruiter’s apprehension. A senior professor from a deemed university said, “Most universities face the challenge of convincing recruiters to pick integrated students. Recruiters prefer plain graduates as they are easy to train and have to paid less.” On the other hand, students graduating with an integrated programme may well seem overqualified for a trainee’s job in certain fields.

Some career consultants say an integrated engineering-management programme has still not caught the imagination of students. “Top scorers would always like to pursue a management degree at a better university,” said consultant Jayaprakash Gandhi said.

He added that at the undergraduate level, many students don’t like getting tied down to an integrated programme as they feel it would limit their career choices immediately after class XII. “Also, the best B-schools across the globe prefer students with work experience. That is because historically MBA has been viewed a professional qualification for future managers,” Gandhi said.

A senior academician, who did not want to be named, pointed out that some integrated courses are only created to accommodate more students. “The idea is to admit more students every year. When students do not get admission into top courses, these integrated courses are their second option,” he said. One of the deemed universities admitted that some of their integrated programmes are not attracting students.

147 B-schools shut shop during 2013-14

CHENNAI: Management programmes across the country may be losing some of their sheen. Latest figures released by the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) show that 147 standalone B-schools and MBA programmes offered by engineering institutions across the country closed down in the last academic year.

The number of postgraduate diploma programmes in management institutes has also dropped from 606 to 600 in the same period.

Maharashtra where 24 MBA colleges shut down and Tamil Nadu with 23 account for the largest number of closures followed by Andhra Pradesh with 19. Among the other states, only Bihar, Jharkhand and Kerala have shown growth by adding new institutions. They have each started one new institution in this period.

Educational consultant Moorthy Selvakumaran said most institutions closed down mainly because of lack of patronage. The decline started a couple of years ago after a dip in number of registrations for the Common Admission Test, scores of which determine admission to the premier Indian Institutes of Managements and other management programmes across the country.

T N Swaminathan, director, branding and alumni relations, Great Lakes Institute of Management, said the reason for the closures was surplus supply and a demand crunch. “For instance, of the 1.93 lakh candidates who registered for CAT this year only 1.53 lakh took the exam. Some who paid did not take the exams. And those who took the exam are choosy so reputed B-schools are not affected but others are.”

Some see it as consolidation time for programmes run by engineering, arts and science colleges. “Earlier they were cashing in on the demand for a management degree among candidates. Now that the craze has died down, they are closing down those that are unfeasible,” said the head of a university management programme who declined to be named.

Selvakumaran said that many of the management courses run by engineering institutions are closing down because they did not focus enough on improving the skills of candidates and making them employable.

Swaminathan said many have had to down shutters because they followed a university curriculum which may have been outdated and did not draw students unlike autonomous B-schools which update curriculum according to market requirements.

“We need to add value. Even if the institution has to follow the university curriculum, it can always tweak programmes or add on courses. There is no bar on that. Institutions should consider how to make students more employable in terms of providing soft skills,” he said. Colleges could also focus on entrepreneurship and lay emphasis on making students job providers rather than job seekers, he added.

Online management programmes have also made inroads into the market. K Swaminathan, founder of MyBSkool.com, an online business school that trains close to a million students in management and entrepreneurship, said several institutions were finding it unviable to continue management programmes because they lacked good teaching faculty.

“Those who have just finished MBA come and teach. What a good management course needs is a faculty member who has industry experience. Online programmes are able to provide that by getting the best faculty, as time and distance are immaterial.” He said that the better institutions are coming up with flip classrooms to bridge this gap. “This may solve the problem,” he added.