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17.68 lakh seats lay vacant last year but govt may approve 800 new tech institutes in 2018

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The technical education regulator is considering more than 800 new applications, despite the fact that 149 institutes closed down in 2016-17.

New Delhi: A total of 149 technical institutions – including those teaching management, engineering and pharmacy – shut down in 2016-17.

The year before, the number was 125. Hundreds have applied for closure this year as well.

But the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) is currently considering more than 800 applications seeking its approval to start new institutions in the next academic year, ThePrint has learnt.

There are 10,399 technical institutes in India at present, with a total intake of 37,01,674 students. But around half the seats remained vacant last year (17.68 lakh), while the numbers for the previous two years were 17.58 lakh and over 18 lakh respectively, according to official data.

Experts said this clearly indicates there is no need for new technical institutions. And yet AICTE continues to approve new institutions in large numbers. Last year, around 175 new technical institutions were granted approval.

AICTE is a body under the ministry of human resource development, which is responsible for technical education in the country.

“We have received more than 800 applications for the opening of new technical institutions, including engineering, management, architecture and others. There has been a surge in the number of applications for pharmacy colleges; engineering and management have remained the same as last year,” an AICTE official told ThePrint.

New institutes versus better quality

The government does not see the closure of old institutes and approval of new ones as a problem.

“Institutes that are not doing well will be closed down because we want to maintain quality of education,” AICTE chairman Anil Sahasrabuddhe told ThePrint. “Applications for opening new institutes will come in, but a lot of them will be rejected if they do not meet the required standards.”

Those associated with technical education agree that while opening new institutions is not a problem, the emphasis should be on maintaining standards, they said.

“If some institutes are closing down, some others will open, that is not a problem. But the problem arises when the government grants approval to institutes and forgets them. There should be greater emphasis on maintaining the quality of institutions,” said Dheeraj Sanghi, professor at IIT-Kanpur and a critic of the government’s policies on technical education.

“Agencies like AICTE should ask for accreditation within the first two years. Currently, only about 10 per cent of institutions have accreditation from either the National Assessment and Accreditation Council or the National Board of Accreditation. These numbers should be higher,” Sanghi said.

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