AICTE Approval Process Handbook 2023: Five major changes for engineering colleges

The AICTE Handbook 2023-24 relaxes norms for new engineering colleges, courses, seat increase. It has also scrapped expert visits.


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AICTE Approval Handbook 2023-24 PDF also allows institutions to start courses in emerging areas ( Image credit: Wikimedia Commons)AICTE Approval Handbook 2023-24 PDF also allows institutions to start courses in emerging areas ( Image credit: Wikimedia Commons)

R. Radhika | March 23, 2023 | 05:22 PM IST

NEW DELHI: Aiming for a streamlined approval process, the apex technical education regulator, All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) introduced relaxed norms and other changes in the approval process for the new academic year.

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After three years of ban, the AICTE is now encouraging applications for the establishment of new engineering colleges in traditional areas of engineering and technology at degree, diploma and postgraduate levels. This major change has been introduced to strengthen core branch areas according to AICTE chairman T G Sitharam who launched the Approval Process Handbook (APH) on Wednesday.

Shutting down all its regional offices, the regulator will now operate the entire approval process through the National Single Window System portal. All new institutions are required to register on this portal for approval from now on, AICTE advisor Rajendra Kakde said at the inauguration.

Following a “light and tight” policy to ease the approval process, the AICTE has done away with the expert committee visit to the applicant campus, once an important part of the approval process. “From this year onwards, there will be stress on reducing all the inspections and compliance. Whenever necessary, like in case of inauthentic information or if we receive complaints, we will go for inspections,” explained Kakde in the meeting.

The AICTE has also increased the maximum approved intake from the present 300 to 360 in undergraduate engineering programmes (BTech or BE). The institutions are also free to increase the intake from 180 to 300 in computer application programmes, as per the new regulations.

With the goal to improve technical education in rural and semi urban areas, AICTE has decided to focus on aspirational districts where placement cells, skill development programmes and internship opportunities have been made crucial factors deciding approval. Meanwhile, the extension of approval for the pharmacy and architecture institutions, according to the AICTE officials, will not be issued from this academic year. This decision was taken as per the directions of the Supreme Court.

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New courses, increase in intake

As per AICTE’s new handbook, all engineering colleges will have the liberty to apply for multiple new courses at degree, diploma or postgraduate levels, not exceeding three divisions. Before this, institutions were permitted to apply for a single new programme and wait till the first batch to graduate.

However, the institution must offer three core branch courses to be eligible to start new courses. Electronics and telecommunication has been added to the list of core branches in the document. The core engineering branches also include mechanical, civil and electrical engineering.

The APH 2023 also allows institutions to start courses in certain emerging areas irrespective of the overall enrollment percentage. Earlier, the colleges required at least 50 percent enrollment to start offering courses in emerging areas.

Collaboration with foreign institutions

Previously, the top 500 institutions in global rankings by Times Higher Education (THE) and Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) were permitted to collaborate with domestic institutions within the top 100 places in National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF). However, the norm has been relaxed to include the top 1,000 institutions in global rankings.

Indian institutions that are AICTE approved with a National Board of Accreditation (NBA) score of at least 650, or featuring in the top 100 in NIRF, will be permitted to collaborate with foreign institutions. Indian universities with a score of 3.1 in National Accreditation and Assessment Council (NAAC) will also be allowed to offer dual, joint or twinning programmes. Such institutions will be allowed to admit an additional batch of 60 seats, as per new rules.

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BTech: Minor degrees

To increase employability among students, the AICTE has also added new minor degrees. Innovation, entrepreneurship and venture development and business development and marketing and finance both at undergraduate level have been added to the list of minor degrees. Similarly, VLSI design and technology and 5G and advanced technology at any level of engineering programme have been added as minor degree programmes.

To offer any vocational course, the institutions will not require an extension of approval; instead, the AICTE will issue a no-objection certificate for this.

Adjunct faculty

As per the new APH, the strength of adjunct faculty will also be calculated in student-teacher ratio from now on. However, there are conditions and different programmes and disciplines have been allowed different extent of inclusion for such teachers. “In case courses like planning – 30 percent – and design – 20 percent – adjunct faculty or resource persons are permissible since the programme requires exhaustive practical field exposure,” the APH states.

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In all other programmes, appointment of adjunct faculty are allowed only under “exigent conditions” such as relieving or retirement of faculty members or delay in faculty recruitment. Institutions can avail the services of adjunct faculty up to 10 percent as per required student-teacher ratio for the approved intake, it further states. The institutions can engage adjunct faculty for a period of one academic year provided the teacher visits institutes for a minimum 50-60 hours per semester.

Classroom requirements, women’s helpline, mental health

From 2023 onwards, institutions are required to establish a forum or hire counsellors to address mental health issues of students and teachers. A round-the-clock helpline number for women and a security system for students and female teaching and non-teaching staff has also been made mandatory.

The APH 2023 has also relaxed the minimum requirement of classrooms to start an engineering college. As per the document, the total number of classrooms required is 0.5 times of the number of divisions in the college. Earlier, the ratio was 0.7. For instance, a college which was earlier required to have 15 classrooms can begin the academic year with 10 classrooms with AICTE approval.

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