Goa University M-Tech (computer science): a formal start to research in Goa needs to survive long
Goa University started an M.Tech (Computer Science) degree (two years) program in June 2013 and the first batch graduated in 2015. Despite proving ourselves at various levels we have been labelled as ineligible, non-standard and unfit to teach in engineering and polytechnic colleges in the state of Goa. Therefore, we are deprived of the opportunity to teach here and this rejection is causing a lot of mental stress and anxiety amongst the students. The deliberations between the different stakeholders namely Goa University, DTE and Engineering colleges over past few months has led to the decision by academic council to close down the course and it has resolved to do so on 18th December 2015. The course is research based and requires to complete one year of coursework and one year of thesis work. For a thesis, research work is carried out in various focused areas like Education Technology, Machine learning, Natural Language Processing and Visual Computing. By taking maximum efforts, students are contributing to the research community in these fields under the guidance of their knowledgeable faculty and resource persons mostly from IITs, IIITs, etc.. Most of the students have published their research work in several top tier and recognised conferences in India and also abroad. Many have been able to secure jobs in R&D companies with high CTC. Some of the passed out students are pursuing higher education in premier institutes in India and abroad.
The so-called problems or objections raised against this course revolve around three points. Firstly it is being claimed that in the Gazette Notification issued by U.G.C on 5th July 2014 (), the M.Tech.(Computer Science) degree is shown under the table of a faculty of Engineering/Technology and therefore, our Dept. of Computer Science and Technology, Goa University offering this course is not entitled to offer this course as it comes under Faculty of Science. We feel, our Dept. of Computer Science and Technology, Goa University can run M.C.A. and M.Tech. like other universities and colleges (KLESCET, Belgaum, V.T.U., Karnataka, University of Hyderabad, Central University, Rajasthan and several others). However due to this notification, Goa university requires forming a Faculty of Technology in lines with Pune University(), who did the same when faced with similar problems and then affiliate our course to that faculty.
The second issue being raised is that M.Tech. programme offered by DCST is not approved by the A.I.C.T.E. They are of the opinion that it is mandatory for engineering colleges to hire candidates of only AICTE approved courses. We haven’t found a Gazette or notification from A.I.C.T.E. that mentions this regulation. Regardless of this, we have been enquiring about A.I.C.T.E. approval with the department since 2013. We had anticipated about these problems at the beginning of the MTech program and approached the department asking for A.I.C.T.E. approval for this course. The department assured that they will get the A.I.C.T.E. approval but after few months, due to Honourable Supreme court’s decision A.I.C.T.E.’ powers were reduced to advisory body and, therefore, all technical colleges came under the purview of U.G.C. However appeal against this decision brought A.I.C.T.E. back in action. After approaching the department again to ask the status of A.I.C.T.E, approval the department conveyed us that A.I.C.T.E. approval is not required for courses started by University. However, the department at the same time began with the process of analysis of department’s shortcomings so that the AICTE approval could be sought as the same would have helped the GATE qualified students to obtain scholarship from A.I.C.T.E. They also initiated the process of A.I.C.T.E. by writing to University to seek the approval.
A Supreme Court judgement () and a public notice by A.I.C.T.E. () also exist that clearly state that departments within university do not need approval from A.I.C.T.E. Nevertheless, both the documents do specify that such departments do need to fulfil the norms as prescribed by the body. From the initial investigation, it is clear that infrastructure wise the department does not lack much. The only shortcoming is the number of faculties. For this the University is responsible as there are around five vacancies existing in the department and these have not been filled for decades now. However, it should also be noted that the department has been appointing visiting faculty from engineering colleges and industry to fill up this gap.
Finally the U.G.C. and A.I.C.T.E. 2010 Regulations (), specify the minimum educational qualifications for faculty recruitment for technical education. They are claiming that as per the above regulations our faculty are ineligible to teach M.Tech. course since they do not possess B.E./B.Tech. and M.E./M.Tech. and have M.C.A., M.Sc. qualifications. A.I.C.T.E. has come out with clarification () regarding this confusion where it is clearly stated that for direct recruitment the minimum qualification has to be B.E./B.Tech. and M.E./M.Tech. However, it is also clarified in the same gazette that existing faculty with M.C.A. or M.Sc. background appointed prior to 2010 before the issue of the Regulation is eligible to teach. This is also asserted by the officials of Anna university as quoted in Deccan Chronicle National daily (). Therefore, this no longer remains a problem.
Some few reasons that this Course should survive:
- Only course with strong research component
- Ability to secure internships in top institutes
- Placements in RND industry reflects the excellent research skills developed in various fields.
- Provides opportunity to secure seats for higher studies in top institutes
- Allows to compete alongside with the students from premier institutes in the country and abroad in workshops and other competitions.
- Provides an opportunity to interact with eminent personalities of the respective fields of research.
- Allows to publish and adds to the credentials of the University and the state as well as the country by opening up an opportunity to participate in top-tier conferences.
- Course despite being a new one has proved its potential at various levels
- ME courses in the state haven’t gone beyond providing faculty jobs within the state and a few jobs in the industry which have the same profile as that of jobs offered to t engineering graduates, so this course should be looked upon at as the one which can provide better employment opportunities.
- The course has nurtured to such great heights only due to the faculty’ hard work and their commitment and zeal, therefore, there is a need to keep the course intact with minor and necessary modifications so that it abides by all the R&Rs.
The current happenings revolving around this issue raise several perturbing questions. It is not only for the benefit of the current students that we are raising our voice against these issues. Doesn’t a Goan student have a right to contribute to research community from within the state from Goa? Do they have to travel out of Goa to seek such an opportunity? Don’t we students have a right to brush our shoulders with the ones in premier institutes and collaborate with them in the various fields? Can’t we compare and compete with the students of such institutes in various workshops and conferences? Don’t we have the right to collaborate with companies like IBM, Xerox, C-Dac who have shown keen interest in working with us? A single decision of the academic council when it comes to force will silence all these questions with a negative reply.