Demand key: From next year, 1 lakh less engineering seats

PUBLISH DATE 19th December 2017

The AICTE’s decision to reduce the intake in courses with poor admissions by half from the next academic year is aimed at addressing the demand-supply mismatch.

The number of BTech/BE seats in the country is set to come down by almost a lakh in 2018-19, with the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) releasing its new approval handbook on Friday evening.

Technical courses where student admission has been less than 30 per cent in the last five years consistently will have their intake reduced by half from the academic year starting July 2018, while programmes where admissions have been zero during this period will be closed immediately, AICTE Chairman Anil Sahasrabudhe told The Sunday Express.

Engineering makes up 70 per cent of the technical education seats in India. Management (MBA), pharmacy, computer applications (MCA), architecture, town planning, hotel management and ‘applied arts and crafts’ form the rest. Of the 15.5 lakh BE/BTech seats in 3,291 engineering colleges across the country, over half (51 per cent) were vacant in 2016-17, according to AICTE data.

The new approval handbook also categorically states that the Council will henceforth not permit establishment of a new college if the state government concerned has refused an NOC (No Objection Certificate) to the applicant, based on a perspective plan. A perspective plan maps the current situation of the industry, jobs and total seats in education, and uses that to predict the demand for engineers.

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In future, deemed universities too will have to seek the regulator’s approval for their technical courses. Until now, these institutions were under the UGC’s purview and not obligated to approach the AICTE before starting a technical programme, which contributed to the unbridled expansion of engineering seats in the country.

A three-month-long investigation by The Indian Express to find out why engineering seats were going unfilled had found glaring gaps in regulation, including alleged corruption; a vicious circle of poor infrastructure, labs and faculty; non-existent linkages with industry; and the absence of a technical ecosystem to nurture the classroom. All this accounted for low employability of graduates, and hence an abysmal record of job placement. In short, a steady devaluation of Brand BE/BTech.

The AICTE’s decision to reduce the intake in courses with poor admissions by half from the next academic year is aimed at addressing the above mismatch.

The move, however, is a little different from what the regulator had initially decided. Last year, the Council had announced its intention to wind up all technical programmes with less than 30 per cent admission in the last five years. “We received several representations from institutes that risked closure because of the announcement. They sought two years to plug the gaps in order to improve their admissions. We have agreed partially. While programmes with poor student intake will not be shut down immediately, we will cut down their sanctioned strength by 50 per cent,” Sahasrabudhe said.

The number of new engineering institutes is at an all-time low (30 last year), while the number of closed colleges, 49, has set a new record. Sahasrabudhe said that in a bid to expedite this consolidation, the AICTE handbook states that it will facilitate closure of an institution even if it may not be able to procure an NOC from the state authorities.


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