Thursday, April 10, 2014

No new engineering colleges this year, says UGC

There will be no new engineering college or increase in seats in the existing engineering colleges in the coming academic year. The University Grants Commission (UGC) made the decision this week, following its meeting in the last week of March.

"AICTE (All India Council for Technical Education) reports showed that several seats were going vacant in engineering colleges, and the notification for the UGC (Affiliation of Colleges offering Technical Education by Universities) Regulations 2014 has not yet come, whereas according to a Supreme Court judgment, approvals have to be finalised by the end of April. So, there won't be enough time," said UGC Vice-Chairperson H Devaraj. He said as it is a new process universities and colleges may need some time to get familiar with it.

UGC officials also said that they did not get too many inquiries for starting new colleges. "Colleges are seeing that many of their students are unemployed, so not many are expressing interest in starting new colleges. But a lot of people want to start new arts and science courses," Devaraj added.

Earlier this month, Anna University officials said they expected a maximum of 10 new colleges to apply for approval this year, of which four or five were last year's applicants who did not meet some of the requirements in 2012. For these colleges it is a blow, as they will be letting their infrastructure lie unused for the second year now.

The moratorium is good news for some relatively new colleges that did not see many students enrolling in their courses in the past few years, as existing tier 1 engineering colleges may not be able to accommodate more students this year. But some colleges that want to expand were disappointed with the move.

"We applied for two new courses - mechatronics and biomedical engineering. Officials from Anna University had conducted the inspection, but our request has been stalled for a year," said Agni College of Technology principal S R R Senthilkumar. The college now has six courses.

The Tamil Nadu government wrote to AICTE to stop issuing approvals to new colleges in the state in 2010, but the council turned down the request quoting the country's commitment to increasing the gross enrolment ratio. More than 100,000 seats went vacant in 2013 in TN, and the situation was not much different in engineering colleges in many other parts of the country. Some academics said that at least 100 colleges were up for sale in Tamil Nadu, for want of students. Academics lauded UGC's move saying this would give colleges the much required breather to work on the quality of their courses and attract students.

Source: The Times of India, April 10, 2014

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