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Explained: AICTE’s revised rules for engineering education

AICTE has issued revised norms on engineering education for the next academic year. What changes have been made?

Written by Sourav Roy Barman , Edited by Explained Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: March 31, 2022 8:12:23 am
The AICTE handbook which spells out the norms, covers a wide range of areas from entry-level qualifications for engineering aspirants to the setting up of new colleges in the technical education sector. (Express file/Representational)

The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), which regulates technical education in the country, Tuesday issued revised norms on engineering education for the next academic year.

The AICTE ‘Approval Process Handbook 2022-23’, which spells out the norms, covers a wide range of areas from entry-level qualifications for engineering aspirants to the setting up of new colleges in the technical education sector among others.

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The handbook also introduces new features such as a supernumerary quota in polytechnic institutions for Covid-orphans covered under the PM CARES scheme. The Indian Express explains the highlights of the handbook:

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What changes have been made to entry-level qualifications?

The AICTE has partially rolled back its radical move, made last year, to dispense with Physics and Mathematics as a mandatory high school subject combination for undergraduate four-year engineering and technology degree aspirants. Under the revised norms, as many as 18 out of 29 recognised UG BE/B Tech degree courses (see chart below) will mandatorily require aspirants to have cleared school with at least 45 per cent marks (general category) studied Physics and Maths at the 10+2 level. The cut off for students from reserved category is 40 per cent.

Is it not obvious that to pursue engineering one needs to have studied Physics and Maths at school?

That was the case till the 2020-21 academic session. However, in its handbook issued last year, the AICTE had done away with the mandatory clause. It said a student need to have cleared school with overall 45 per cent marks in any three subjects out of 14: Physics/ Mathematics / Chemistry/ Computer Science/Electronics/Information Technology/ Biology/ Informatics Practices/ Biotechnology/ Technical Vocational subject/ Agriculture/ Engineering Graphics/ Business Studies/Entrepreneurship. As a result, it became technically possible for a student, who may not have had Physics-Maths in the three-subject combination in high school, to take up core engineering courses.

Why is the rollback being considered partial?

It is partial because three courses — architecture, packaging technology, and fashion technology — will be open to aspirants with any three subject combinations from the list of 14 mentioned above. Also there are nine courses – Agriculture, Architecture, Leather Technology, Biotechnology, Food Engineering, Printing Engineering, Textile Chemistry, Packaging Technology, Fashion Technology – for which Maths will not be mandatory at school.

Why had the AICTE tweaked the norms last year and why has it reversed much of it now?

The explanation that the AICTE offered on its move was that it was receiving a lot of representations from states requesting that the Physics-Maths mandatory requirement be waived for certain degree courses such as Agricultural Engineering and Biotechnology and a wider range of subject choices be given. It was also described as a push for interdisciplinary education that the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 envisages. But the move had sparked a debate, with top names in the scientific establishment raising redflags. Subsequently, a committee was set up to review the norms which underlined the need to specify the courses where specific subject combinations are not required. The revised norms in the new handbook are an outcome of that review process.

What does the handbook say on new engineering colleges?

It says that the moratorium on setting up of new engineering colleges shall continue with some exceptions. The moratorium was imposed on 2020-21 due to low capacity utilisation in existing colleges flagged by a committee IIT-Hyderabad chairman B V R Mohan Reddy. In October 2021, the committee was asked to review its moratorium. After going through the intake capacity, trends of enrolment and placements in UG, PG and Diploma Level in AICTE-approved institutions, the committee has recommended that the “moratorium on new engineering institutions should continue barring a few exceptions”.

What are the exceptions?

New colleges will be allowed in aspirational districts, North Eastern states, Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. Any industry having a minimum annual turnover of Rs 5,000 crore (in preceding three years) “subject to its application as a registered trust/society/company established under Section 8 of the Companies Act, 2013” will also be permitted to set up new institutions. State governments can start new polytechnics, including in public-private partnership mode.

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What are the other highlights of the handbook?

It introduces a supernumerary quota in polytechnic institutions for two categories of students: Covid-orphans covered under the PM CARES scheme and “gifted/talented students”. Accordingly, four seats per institute will be reserved for applicants falling under these categories. The provision for “gifted” students is inspired from the NEP which says “those students that show particularly strong interests and capacities in a given realm must be encouraged to pursue that realm beyond the general school curriculum”. NEP provision on multiple entry and exit in four-year B Tech or BE degrees has also been defined by the AICTE under the revised norms. Students exiting after completing a year will be awarded an undergraduate certificate, those leaving after two years will get an undergraduate diploma, a Bachelor of Vocational Education for those leaving after three years and BE/B Tech on completion of the four-year course.

Disciplines in which Physics-Maths combination at +2 level is mandatory:

– Aeronautical Engineering

– Ceramic Engineering

– Civil Engineering

– Computer Science and Engineering

– Chemical Engineering

– Dairy Engineering

– Electrical Engineering

– Energy Engineering

– Electronics Engineering

– Mechanical Engineering

– Fire and Safety Engineering

– Marine Engineering

– Metallurgy Engineering

– Military Engineering

– Nano Technology

– Nuclear Science and Technology

– Textile Engineering

– Mining Engineering

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