PUNE: Engineering colleges and polytechnics can now offer courses like skill development, vocational studies and industrial training, falling within the ambit of the regulatory bodies other than All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE).
AICTE amended its Regulations of 2012 to facilitate such courses, provided the concerned technical institution/polytechnic has an approved status and abides by the norms and standards of the other regulatory body governing the course.
Speaking to TOI, AICTE chairman Anil Sahasrabudhe said, "We are have opened the gates to ensuring that institutions are able to optimally utilize make optimum utilization of their infrastructure which, otherwise, remains unused on account of large number of seats that remain vacant after the admission process every year."
As of now, AICTE regulates courses like engineering/technology, management, master of computer applications, architecture, and hotel management and catering technology, among others. Institutions offering these courses are bound by the council's regulations, which were seen as rigid in terms of teaching and allied infrastructure like land, building, computer lab, library, journals, etc.
Sahasrabudhe said, "The move to amend the regulations was spurred by a request from the ministry of skill development and entrepreneurship as it was pointed out that teaching and allied infrastructure at several institutions are wasted on account of a large number of vacant seats that remain vacant."
In Maharashtra, close to 40% of the total seats at government-run, aided and private unaided engineering colleges were vacant by the end of the fourth round of the centralized admission process to the first-year engineering degree courses this year. This worked out to over 51,000 seats.
"Often, institutions hit by such vacancies are left with little option but to opt for closure of course/department. The suggestion we received was to let such institutions make up for the unutilized infrastructure by allowing them to offer courses which fall within the ambit of other regulatory bodies," Sahasrabudhe said.
For instance, he pointed out, courses relating to industrial training institutes (ITIs) are regulated by the National Council for Vocational Training (NCVT). Similarly, the National Skill Development Agency (NSDA) is an autonomous body of the ministry of skill development, entrusted with the ambitious skill development programme, including government certified courses and skill development studies. These bodies have their own set of norms for courses falling within their purview.
Education and legal expert Ravi Bhardwaj pointed out, "The amended regulations will not only help institutes fully utilize their on-campus facilities but will give them an opportunity to offer multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary courses to students, thus improving the teaching/learning environment."
According to Bhardwaj, in particular, polytechnic institutions would be able to provide short term courses in vocational and skill development segments, thereby assisting in bridging the skill gap.