Starting a new engineering or management school may soon get tougher.
Worried about bloating vacancies in technical education institutions over the past two years, India’s apex technical education regulator may soon approve new colleges only in regions where there is a shortage, embracing a planner’s role in addition to its traditional task of ensuring the quality of academic programmes.
That would mean an easier green signal for a college in Mizoram, than one in Mumbai, Delhi or Tamil Nadu.
The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) has written to all states asking them for “perspective plans” and enrolment data before it decides on approving new engineering and management schools for 2014.
The move comes after several states wrote to the AICTE warning it that lakhs of seats in existing institutions are lying vacant, not taken by any student.
The number of vacant seats in AICTE-approved management schools has leapt up from 39,541 in 2010-11 to 86,073 in 2012-13.
A total of 310,741 engineering school seats stayed vacant in 2012-13, up from 191,086 two years earlier. Tamil Nadu alone had 62,973 unfilled engineering seats this past year.
The figures stand in startling contrast to the massive shortage of secondary and primary schools that continues to deny millions of children a chance at elementary education.
Top AICTE officials told HT that the regulator wanted to ensure that the sector it monitors doesn’t suffer from a prolonged, artificial supply excess that could potentially erode the credibility of India’s technical education.
“We have absolutely no plan to micromanage the sector, but our mandate requires us to ensure the overall health of Indian technical education,” a senior AICTE official said. “Unsustainable excesses will only hurt technical education.”
But critics caution that stopping new colleges in states with large vacancies may end up depriving students of opportunities to study in an upcoming, quality institution.
“Doesn’t the student have the right to study in a better institution that wants to open up in his state,” the head of a society that is applying for approval from the AICTE asked, requesting anonymity, worried that his application may suffer.