Seats increase only on AICTE panel suggestions

CHENNAI, JUNE 16. A two-day exercise by the southern regional committee (SRC) of the All-India Council of Technical Education to consider applications from engineering colleges for increase in seats and introduction of new courses ended in Chennai today.

Official sources said the committee, comprising AICTE officials and academicians, ``was more or less unanimous that all decisions to approve seats increase or new courses would be based only on expert committee reports and SRC recommendations''.

Applications from 120 colleges for an increase of 4000 seats in Tamil Nadu were considered at the SRC. The AICTE authorities assured officials of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Pondicherry that they would try to complete the process by June 30, the sources said. The AICTE's executive is expected to meet in New Delhi next week to consider the SRC recommendations for a final decision.

The question of permitting new colleges for which viability letters were issued did not come up at this meeting.

Tamil Nadu has 160 engineering colleges with a sanctioned strength of over 40,000 seats, Andhra Pradesh has 104 institutions (30,150 seats) and Pondicherry five institutions having a total sanctioned strength of about 1,000.

Earlier this year, many of these colleges sought an increase in intake in the existing courses and starting of new branches. The AICTE sent expert committees, including senior professors, to each applicant-institution to inspect the facilities. ``The cumulative effect of their reports formed the basis of the SRC deliberations,'' the sources added.

Last year, the State and Union Governments decided very late to increase seats in IT-related courses. Academic managers had to hastily form an expert panel to approve the additional strength. Yesterday, State Government officials raised this issue that overstress on IT could lead to a lop-sided development in engineering education as the conventional branches were becoming unpopular among students.