All technical education institutes will have to reserve 5% of seats for economically weak students, who must not be charged tuition fees. Those that ignore the directive will be de-recognized by the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), HRD minister Kapil Sibal said on Thursday.
Sibal unveiled a bouquet of technical education reforms aimed at supporting the economically weak while also giving institutes leeway to expand and making it easier for corporate firms to start or fund technical education schools.
“The idea is to improve access to technical education, and also make it easier for companies to enter the sector,” Sibal said.
Among the reforms announced is one that effectively bars some top private B-schools from conducting their own admission tests. Institutes offering post-graduate management diplomas will have to subscribe to scores in the Common Admission Test, Management Aptitude Test or tests conducted by state governments.
This means, for instance, that Jamshedpur-based XLRI — rated among the country’s top non-IIM B-schools — will no longer be able to conduct its own entrance test, the XAT.
AICTE at present allows institutes whose courses it recognizes to add 10% extra seats above their permitted capacity to accommodate economically weak students who don’t have to pay. “But hardly any institution implements the scheme,” said AICTE chairman SS Mantha. The new rule makes the 5% quota mandatory.
Companies registered under section 25 of the Companies Act can now also run AICTE-approved courses.
The changed rules relax land requirements for engineering courses in metros from 3.5 acres to 2.5 acres. Institutes can raise student intake per course from 40 to 60. This could potentially lead to an increase of several lakhs of available seats in engineering or management.
India, however, doesn’t suffer from any shortfall in absolute numbers in technical education seats. Indeed, many seats stay vacant.