With demand for engineering courses in the country plummeting and a whopping 13,27,598 seats in engineering colleges going vacant in the last three years, the government is actively considering utilisation of capacities in such institutes by introducing skill development and entrepreneurial courses. This would help enhance skill development capacity with minimum investment and an optimal utilisation of resources.
These institutes include both government and private institutes and comprise IITs, NITs, and renowned engineering colleges. “With a huge number of engineering seats not filling up, there has been a gross underutilisation of capacities in engineering institutes across the country. As a result, many of these institutes have approached us to introduce skilling and vocational courses like plumbing, carpentry, etc, so that the existing infrastructure and capacity is put to good use,” a top government official told HT.
Engineering institutes in Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, and Bihar have been hit the hardest.
But there is a hitch. The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) forbids using the facilities in engineering colleges for any other reason other than teaching the approved engineering courses.
The AICTE, under the HRD ministry, is responsible for proper planning and coordinated development of technical education in India. An official document accessed by HT says: “Many of the polytechnics and engineering institutions have been requesting for reduction of seats, closure of courses, even closure of institutes, because AICTE does not allow non-AICTE approved courses in these buildings even though on an average only 50% of the capacity is utilised in AICTE-approved courses.”
“These institutions have been established with financial assistance from banks and less than the capacity enrolment will limit the capacity of the stakeholders to pay back the installments,” it goes on to say.
Accordingly, the skill development ministry has already written to the HRD ministry to remove the condition of exclusivity by AICTE. “The response from HRD ministry and the AICTE has been quite positive and we hope to launch such skill development courses in these colleges soon enough, paving the way for convergence and co-existence with AICTE-approved courses,” the official said.
Skill development is a top priority sector for the ruling BJP-led NDA government.