Representational image | Manisha Mondal/ThePrint
Representational image | Manisha Mondal/ThePrint

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New Delhi: Engineering and technology colleges can only introduce new courses in “emerging areas” like robotics and Artificial Intelligence (AI), and not in conventional fields, once the 2020-21 academic session starts.

The rule is among new guidelines released by the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), the apex body for technical education, earlier this month. Among other things, the guidelines also reiterate a rule, in place since 2018, barring institutes from adopting names that give them the same abbreviations as premier government institutions like the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs).

The guidelines, issued 4 February, lay down the benchmark for approval of technical institutions — or renewal of permissions — for the academic year 2020-21. 

They also seek to address oversupply in engineering education that results in hundreds of seats going vacant every year. To this end, the guidelines state that institutes looking to bolster intake and start additional courses will only be permitted to do so in “emerging areas”.

An emerging area is a new field of study. The examples listed by the AICTE include Artificial Intelligence [AI], Internet of Things [IoT], blockchain [the technology behind Bitcoin, etc], robotics, quantum computing, data sciences, cybersecurity, 3D printing and design, and augmented reality/virtual Reality (AR/VR).

“The latest AICTE regulations are expected to create an academic ambience… for nurturing and supporting quality, so that technical education in India will be one of the best in the world,” said AICTE chairman Anil Sahasrabudhe.

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‘Can’t name institutes IIT/IIM’

The guidelines reiterate a standing instruction that new institutes cannot name themselves in a way that abbreviates to IIT, IIM, NIT (National Institute of Technology) or IISc (Indian Institute of Science IISc).

The rule, AICTE officials say, is meant to prevent students from getting confused.

The restriction, the guidelines state, will not apply if the “technical institution is established by the Government of India or its name is approved by the Government of India”.

All institutions, they add, will write their full, unabbreviated name on their website and handbook.

Ban on new engineering colleges

The council has also banned the setting up of new engineering colleges — a bar driven by the massive number of seats going vacant. Intake can’t be increased either, the rules state, unless in new courses introduced in emerging areas.

“In view of the large number of vacant seats in various programmes during the last few years and the likely future demand, the council shall not grant approval to new technical institutions at the diploma/ undergraduate/postgraduate level in engineering and technology,” the rules state.

The guidelines also bar the setting up of new pharmacy courses, “for a period of two years beginning… academic year 2020-21”, for the same reason. ThePrint had first reported about the bar on new pharmacy colleges in October 2019.

The regulations call on institutions to give elaborate details about their fee structure, including the break-up, and faculty members’ qualifications on their websites.

Also Read: Govt plans higher education revamp — study at one university, get your degree from another


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