After engineering, no new pharmacy colleges until 2022
After banning new engineering colleges, the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) has placed a two-year ban on new pharmacy colleges, until 2022. This is because the AICTE as well as the Pharmacy Council of India (PCI), a statutory body under the Central government which regulates pharmacy education and practices, believe that many colleges performed poorly at academics and there were not enough jobs for pharmacy graduates to justify the boom in the number of colleges.
The decision to not allow more pharmacy colleges was taken at a meeting held in Delhi on Wednesday, barely a month after the PCI proposed a five-year freeze on colleges offering diploma and degree courses. In January this year, the AICTE decided to not permit new engineering colleges from the academic year 2020-21.
According to AICTE, the intake capacity of pharmacy institutes across India has gone up by 49.5% in the last three years, and this year alone, the capacity increased by 28.1%. From 1,809 diploma and graduate pharmacy institutes that existed in the country 2017-18, the number grew to 3,276 in 2019-20.
“Just like the engineering sector witnessed a sudden expansion a few years ago, the pharmacy sector seems to be witnessing a similar trend for the past three years. However, the passing percentage, as well as the number of students finding jobs after graduation, has not looked good,” said Anil D Sahasrabudhe, chairman, AICTE. He added that the council will first focus on bringing quality into the existing institutes and improving existing facilities before allowing new colleges.
For the current academic year, AICTE had received around 900 applications for starting new pharmacy colleges, of which 565 applications are from Uttar Pradesh (UP). The second-highest number of applications came from Maharashtra, which had around 480 pharmacy institutes offering diploma, undergraduate and post-graduate courses in 2018-19. For the current academic year, 81 new institutes have been approved to start admissions.
While pharmacy institutes are confident about attracting more students to their colleges, experts are concerned over the rate at which these institutes are cropping up. “These colleges, especially the ones in rural parts, are witnessing growing seat vacancies year after year. The situation is worrisome because jobs in the sector are not growing at the same rate as the colleges and very soon, these institutes might face a situation like engineering colleges did a few years ago,” said another official from AICTE.