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Science displaces engineering at No. 2 spot in undergraduate stream

Times of India | Hemali Chhapia | TNN | Mar 18, 2018 |

MUMBAI: With engineering losing its sheen, science courses have re-emerged as the country’s second most popular undergraduate stream. Arts has always had the biggest draw and that trend persists.  While 97.3 lakh students joined BA in 2016-17, 47.3 lakh chose BSc courses and 41.6 lakh took up engineering, HRD ministry data shows. “Thanks to growing diversification with BSc courses in branches such as computers, electronics and pharma, science is no more a plain vanilla option. And an engineering degree is valued only if the student has passed out of a reputed institution. We often see an engineer competing for the same job as a BA or a BCom grad,” said Prakash Gopalan, director, Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology. “Programmes are closing down and so are colleges. Piece all this and it speaks about the engineering education scenario. The word is quality. In times to come this trend may get pronounced if quality is not upped,” he added.

Choices exercised by undergrad applicants have changed dramatically in the past half-a-decade. Till about five years ago, commerce was second to arts while science and engineering vied for third spot.  In 2013, BA courses had 75.1 lakh students, followed by commerce, which saw an enrolment of 28.9 lakh students. B Tech had 17.9 lakh; BE 16.4 lakh candidates and BSc 25.4 lakh students, as per the HRD ministry data.  Then suddenly, commerce lost its appeal and was relegated to the fourth spot. In 2014-2015, engineering was the second-most popular course as the IT sector continued to account for mass recruitments. The emergence and popularity of engineering saw this professional stream become a broadbased course like BA, BCom and BSc. In fact, as an expert said, even those aspiring to do business or a course like an MBA started signing up for engineering given the design of entrance exams for B-schools. But now the proliferation of second-rate colleges has acted as a spoiler. Data from 2015-16 and 2016-17 shows science admissions are up while placements in engineering are dipping.  – Courtesy


Engineering students with cancelled degrees get 2nd chance

DNA India | Mar 19, 2018 | DNA Correspondent |

Students from the four engineering institutes, whose eligibility for distance learning was cancelled by the Supreme Court last year, will get to appear for a qualifying exam in June. The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), which is the authority for technical education in the country, has prepared the curriculum for the qualifying exam and the applicants will have to get at least 40 per cent marks in both theory and practical exams to pass the exam. The curriculum has been put on the official website of AICTE. Students will be tested through objective-type questions, which will include questions from both mathematics and core engineering. An expert team from the AICTE and officials from the Human Resource Development Ministry decided on what should be included in the question paper.

The Supreme Court had in December last year cancelled engineering degrees obtained between 2001 and 2005 through distance learning from four institutes and ordered authorities to conduct an examination to give students another chance to validate their degree. According to officials in the AICTE, those who are unable to clear the June examination will get another chance to write the qualifying exam in December. Those who have not been able to register with the council will also get a chance to register before the December qualifying exam. That exam, however, will be the last chance for the applicants to validate their degree. The colleges disqualified for long distance courses were JRN Rajasthan Vidyapeeth in Udaipur, the Institute of Advanced Studies in Education in Rajasthan’s Churu district, Allahabad Agricultural Institute in Uttar Pradesh and Vinayaka Mission Research Foundation in Tamil Nadu. While cancelling the degrees of students obtained from these colleges, the Supreme Court further ruled that technical education cannot be provided through distance learning or correspondence courses.


  • JRN Rajasthan Vidyapeeth, Udaipur, Institute of Advanced Studies in Education, Churu, Rajasthan, Allahabad Agricultural Institute in UP and Vinayaka Mission Research Foundation, TN.  –  Courtesy

Click here to view / download the AICTE Circular, 1 page, pdf  – Public Notice on Examination to be Conducted by AICTE in respect of 4 Deemed to be Universities

1.78 lakh Teachers in Professional Colleges to Lose Jobs

News Click | Tarique Anwar | 03 Mar 2018 |

Teachers’ body approaches SC against AICTE’s ‘Draconian’ diktat on staff-student ratio.

The table below is tentative number of professors who shall get affected and lose their jobs:

Throwing the whole professional education system into chaos, an estimated 1.78 lakh techers in private engineering, MBA, hotel management and other professional courses will be thrown out after AICTE, the regulatory body that looks after these colleges changed the faculty-student ratios. Teachers of these colleges have rushed to the Supreme Court seeking withdrawal of the new ratios. Their petition may be heard on March 9. The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) declared that faculty-student ratio will henceforth be 1:20. Earlier, the ratio was 1:15 in private and self-financing engineering colleges for B.E/B.Tech/B.Arch, MBA, MCA, hotel management and 1:20 for diploma in engineering courses. The faculty-student ratio of 1:15 for engineering & technology and other programs such as MBA, MCA, HMCT, M.Pharm has been “irrationally decreased to 1:20”. For diploma, the earlier 1:20 ratio was converted in to 1:25.

The Private Educational Institutions Employees Association (PEIEA) of Tamil Nadu along with other self financing college teachers’ associations of Telengana have approached the Supreme Court for stay and withdrawal of AICTE’s new faculty-students ratio. “The total numbers of jobless professors after implementation of new ratios in all AICTE-monitored courses shall be around 1.78 lakh (one lakh faculties in private engineering colleges alone). It is stated that the new faculty-student ratio is not only going to create a defective education system but is also going to be liable for a loss of a massive amount of intra-national brain drain. Students presently opting for B.E/B.Tech or other technical education will not opt for it in future due to scarce quantity of teachers at engineering colleges. These students will opt for science and arts degrees, which cannot develop and stimulate the knowledge of students similar to the level of engineering or other technical education. Naturally, as a result of this anticipated downfall, the youth shall lose in global competition and nation shall also lose many crores of its technically qualified human resource,” PEIEA President KM Karthik said in his petition. Further, the professors – said the petitioner – who are retained are also going to come under the thumb of the management of private institutions and shall be intimidated to work for less salary because of the fear of being replaced by those who lost their jobs.

The new faculty-student ratio is way beyond the prevalent norms in other countries (see Table below for top 10 universities of the world).

There are almost 3000 self-financing/private engineering colleges across the nation. Most of them were just allowed to start and run at will during the last one and half decade. The jobless situation for engineering graduates attributed to automation, contracting, outsourcing and privatization of the industry is allegedly diminishing the craze for engineering education. “Even under this prevailing scenario, the trusts operating self-financing colleges are increasing the fees received from students and reduce the salaries earned by professors. The educational institutions feel the business will not yield the same old profit margin and decided to wind up the business and move on for other businesses. Before the educational trusts could exit the business, the AICTE indirectly helps the trusts to reap good profit by implementing a great reduction in number of professors,” said the petitioner. He said with an aim to meet the requirements of affiliations and inspections, several private engineering colleges are in the practice of appointing “fake” staff members. “The private institutions are not even following the earlier ratio of 1:15. The fact has been stated by the chairman of the AICTE himself,” he said.

It is learnt the AICTE decided to reduce the faculty to help the institutions from financial burdens. It raises a big question as to whether the AICTE has monitored or cross verified the institutions’ bank statements along with the faculties salary paid statements. The answer is negative. “It is clear that even after demonetization and digital economy initiatives, the AICTE is not bothered to digitise the student fees and staff salaries in the institutions and remains content only on oral statements of institutions. Issues are meager importance are being promoted by the AICTE and grave important issues summarily disregarded,” said Karthik. In implementing new faculty student ratios, the AICTE – according to the petitioner – has broken the transparency that it followed all these years. The matter was allegedly not released in public domain prior to deciding and thrust over the society in an autocratic manner. “The AICTE had acted on the advice of associations of college managing trusts. Every trust in no more a non-profitable service organization, and largely a money churning family owned organization. Some AICTE’s officials had acted in nexus with these trusts making a secret society and the new draconian faculty student ratios are only a result of the meetings in these secret societies,” he alleged. During the academic year 2015-16, the total number of staff in all the approved institutions of AICTE was about 7,00,000 (as per the records of AICTE). It is further stated that for engineering & technology colleges alone, the number is a staggering 5,78,000. Even if the number is taken as an approximate of 5,00,000, said the petitioner, the same accounts for 5,00,000 families with direct benefits from employment in these private engineering colleges. – Courtesy

AICTE panel suggests new way to test engineering students

Hindustan Times | Neelam Pandey  | New Delhi | Mar 05, 2018 |

The committee has suggested a number of measures including a focus on projects, training and “situational questions”, an official said.

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An All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) committee has suggested changes to the way students are tested in engineering colleges across the country along the lines of the system used in premier institutes like IITs and NITs, officials familiar with the matter said on Sunday. In premier institutes, students are rarely grilled on theory, but on concepts and application with an emphasis on analysis and ‘quants’ or quantitative problems. AICTE had setup the committee on exam reforms comprising of experts from various fields in earlier this year which submitted the draft report in March. Over 3,500 institutes are approved by the AICTE. The AICTE, the apex body and regulator of technical education in the country, has called a meeting on Monday of vice-chancellors of technical universities, deans, directorate of technical education officials, and teachers, to discuss the report, according to an AICTE official, who did not want to be named. The committee has suggested a number of measures including a focus on projects, training and “situational questions”, the official added.

 “Currently we have descriptive questions that encourage rote-learning rather than promoting the critical thinking of the students. It also focuses more on testing the subject knowledge of the student,” the official said. The committee’s report also includes model exam papers prepared along the lines of the new method. The plan now is to “have clear-cut learning outcomes for each programme and have an exam to test each of those outcomes,” said the official. Explaining the new system, the official said that the committee modelled its approach on Bloom’s taxonomy, which is a tool to help develop learning objectives. The system classifies educational objectives in a hierarchy as cognitive, sensory and affective. Experts think the move will help students develop thinking abilities. “It’s definitely a good step. For instance, Bloom’s taxonomy has been in existence for quite some time and the sensitisation that AICTE is doing is quite important. Framing of questions is significant as it can force a student to think, Even during the accreditation, institutes are currently also asked what outcomes have been achieved and how have you achieved it?…” said Dheeraj Sanghi, a professor of computer science at IIT Kanpur. – Courtesy

India’s STEM talent sees shortage despite maximum graduates

The Hindu Business Line | New Delhi, Feb 28 |

STEM stream: Quantity, not quality

The average level of shortage of skilled talent in this sector has risen from 6 per cent in 2014 to 12 per cent in this year.

Shortage of skilled talent in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) sector persists in India despite the country producing maximum number of graduates globally, says a report. According to data from the leading job site Indeed, the average level of shortage of skilled talent in India has risen from 6 per cent in January, 2014 to 12 per cent in January this year in STEM sector. The leading sectors hiring STEM talent include information technology, banking and financial services. The top job roles these companies offer include software engineer, web developer, business analyst, software architect and SAP consultant.

Findings of the survey assume significance as India produced the maximum graduates worldwide with 78 million fresh graduates in 2016 alone, of which 2.6 million were from STEM. “This puts India in a position to outstrip the US in terms of STEM graduates produced annually, given that it leads by a margin of over 2.5 million,” the report said adding that despite ample talent, some job roles remain vacant due to lack of requisite skills. According to industry experts and academicians, one of the chief contributors to the talent mismatch is the disparity between college curricula and industry expectations. “Today, India produces a significant share of the world’s graduates, and this share will only continue to grow in size as we work towards building and strengthening our knowledge economy,” Indeed India MD Sashi Kumar said. Kumar further noted that the shift towards higher education will not only give a boost to STEM sector, but also help expand India’s contribution to the global talent pool. Indeed’s data also indicates that job seekers in the age group of 21–25 show 12 per cent more interest in STEM jobs than in any other sector. – Courtesy

‘To improve gender ratio at IITs, start at school level’

The Economic Times | By Prachi Verma , ET Bureau| Feb 27, 2018 |

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With the admission process a few months away at the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), this year focus is on creating 14% seats for women. The government has recently sent out a directive to the IITs urging them to increase womens numbers in admission by creating supernumerary seats (if required) from this year. Experts appreciate the move but said that intervention at the school level is the need of the hour. Only 8% of women got admitted last year to the IITs. There needs to be a shift in how families and female students think about professional choices for women. A large percentage of women decide not to join IITs despite having qualified the exam their decision to opt out is a huge loss to the institutions and to the society at large, said Ruchira Shukla, regional lead, South Asia, venture capital-International Finance Corporation.

This is often driven by the misconception that engineering is not an ideal profession for women, said Shukla, who graduated from IIT Delhi in 1994. Despite outdoing the boys at the boards in the 12th standard, women either do not get through or do not opt for the IITs. The ministry of human resources development (MHRD) sent out a directive to all 23 IITs to have a better representation of women at India s premium engineering colleges. This directive states that each of the IITs should bring up the percentage of women by 14% in 2018 (by creating supernumerary seats, if required) Shukla advocates for successful women who graduated from IITs to serve as role models to inspire young women. This will help groom a strong set of women leaders bringing a multitude of benefits to India and the world economy, she said. SKEWED GENDER DIVERSITY Last year, when IITs admitted nearly 11,000 students, the percentage of women at some of the institutes fell even below 10%. IIT-Kanpur had only 54 women among the 826 it admitted in 2017, a percentage of 6.5% while IIT-Guwahati had only 6.3% women among 643 students. IIT Delhi and Bombay admitted over 10% women students last year. Among all the IITs, IIT Mandi fared better in terms of women admissions last year with over 14% women joining the institute.

Every year, many highly talented women just miss a seat at the IITs. The main reason is societal biases that place geographical constraints on women and deny them equal access to preparation for the highly competitive JEE (Advanced) entrance exam, said Timothy A Gonsalves, director, IIT Mandi. IITs are also targeting schools to inspire young girls to take up STEM courses in higher studies. Going forward, a strong effort is needed to expose school girls to engineering as a career, Gonsalves explained. The imperatives of an equitable gender ratio at classrooms include diverse viewpoints resulting in better learning for all students and ensuring engineering team members of both genders that would cater to the needs of the whole society. The governments aim is to improve the gender ratio at the engineering colleges to at least 20%, or one woman in every five students, by 2020. It will create more supernumerary seats by then if that is needed to achieve the target. Shruti Joshi, currently in the third year of B-tech at IIT-Kanpur, supports the decision of creating supernumerary seats for women. Creating of supernumerary seats for girls will undoubtedly create an atmosphere of inclusion in every campus, said Joshi. She suggests that the coaching classes should take a cue and offer special scholarships to girls. – Courtesy

AICTE directive sets alarm bells ringing

The Hindu |  P. Sujatha Varma | VIJAYAWADA |  February 27, 2018 |

Teaching staff fear large-scale job losses; managements unfazed


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The All India Council for Technical Education’s directive to technical institutions to reduce faculty-student ratio has triggered unrest among the academic faculty who fear losing their jobs. Technical education institutions were required to maintain one faculty for every 15 students in the past. Now the AICTE wants it to be one faculty for every 20 students.

Plea to Modi

The pan-India phenomenon has resulted in members of the All-India Private College Employees Union petitioning Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking his intervention to ensure continuation of the old system. In Andhra Pradesh, members of the teaching faculty are coming together to form Private Engineering Colleges’ Lecturers’ Association to oppose the decision. “Interests of the teaching faculty will be hit if this is implemented. Apart from this, another norm allows colleges to replace an additional 10 % of the teaching staff with visiting faculty from the industry. This will further hit our interests,” says Sai Krishna Kota from Gudlavalleru College of Engineering. Citing cases of a few colleges that have short-listed teachers to be shown the door, he says the association will press the government not to be hasty and try and relocate the ‘excess’ faculty in other departments. Some of the lecturers have estimated that the council move will deprive nearly 20,000 college teachers of their jobs in A.P. and Telangana. The ‘affected’ section in Telangana has already formed an association which plans to move court, said sources. The managements, meanwhile, have welcomed the move saying this would call the bluff of the colleges that had been presenting inflated number of teaching faculty. “The AICTE directive will not change anything as most colleges already have 1:20 teaching staff,” says Gadde Rajaling, Chairman of the Lingaya’s Institute of Management and Technology.

Salary burden

Moreover, with the 6th pay commission coming up, it would be impossible to pay higher salaries to excess faculty, he said. Pointing to the fact that the teachers will have to take not more than 15 hours of teaching per week, he said it would in fact bring in transparency. Ratna Raju, Principal of V.R. Siddhartha Engineering College, said the institution being an autonomous one, it offered many elective courses apart from the regular ones. “There is no need to downsize the teaching staff since we have always maintained this ratio and ensured high standards,” he said. Teachers in engineering colleges apprehend that the downsizing will start immediately after the exams. – Courtesy

PM research fellowship can’t stop brain drain from top engineering, tech institutes, say faculty, students at IITs

The New Indian Express | Sumi Sukanya dutta  |  24th February | Opinion |


NEW DELHI: Government’s flagship PM Research fellowship scheme for PhDs at IITs and Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore is being touted as a measure to check brain drain of “brightest minds” but the programme is being met with scepticism by students and faculties at premier institutes. On Friday, the Union human resource ministry invited application from the engineering graduates from IITs, IISc, National Institutes of Technology, Indian Institute of Information Technology and Indian Institutes of Science Research and Education for the programme—first announced in the budget this year. The scheme promises up to Rs 80,000 stipend to about 1000 students apart from Rs 2 lakh annual research grant and urges them to come up with research idea in subjects such as artificial intelligence, nanotechnology- among several others- with clear deliverables and outcomes.

It also makes it clear that only those students who have the Cumulative Grade Point Average upward of 8 will be considered. “Every year about 20 per cent brightest minds from premium engineering and technology institutes leave country either for jobs or higher studies—this scheme should put a brake on that practice,” a senior hrd official said. Several faculty members across IITs, however conceded that unlike the undergraduate programmes at IITs, PhDs are considered less “prestigious”. “In fact, the reality is that only 200-300 students from IITs prefer to do PhDs at IITs while most prefer to go abroad for better exposure and academic experience,” said an IIT director, not wishing to be named. “Also for many students who want to pursue higher studies instead of taking up high-paying jobs, money is not very high on the priority list nor is what is being offered by the government very lucrative.” Dheeraj Sanghi, professor of Computer Science at IIT Kanpur said that scheme might benefit students from other institutes more than the older IITs and IISc. “The students will be interested in staying back for the purpose of research here if there is a healthy research ecosystem in India but the government perhaps needs to find several other ways to ensure that,” he said. “Also what is the guarantee that after five years of research these students wont go to countries like US for post-doctoral experience or jobs?”  Samarth Malik, a mechanical engineering student at IIT Kharagpur said that there is hardly any buzz around the scheme on the campus. “Many talented students are attracted towards PhDs in US universities because of the best academic experiences they promise—I doubt if PMRF can deter such students,” he quipped. – Courtesy

Online Registration For Prime Minister’s Research Fellowship Begins

ND TV | Education | Maitree Baral | February 24, 2018 |

B.Tech graduates or those in the final year of B. Tech or Integrated M.Tech or integrated M.Sc. in Science and Technology streams from IISc/ IITs/ NITs/ IISERs/ IIITs are eligible for the fellowship. Additionally, applicants must have also secured 8 CGPA or more for being eligible for the fellowship.

NEW DELHI:  Online registration for Prime Minister’s Research Fellowship (PMRF) has begun. The last date to apply is 31 March. B.Tech graduates or those in the final year of B. Tech or Integrated M.Tech or integrated M.Sc. in Science and Technology streams from IISc/ IITs/ NITs/ IISERs/ IIITs are eligible for the fellowship. Additionally, applicants must have also secured 8 CGPA or more for being eligible for the fellowship. The fellowship will lead to direct admission in IISc or 23 IITs for full time PhD programme. Application submission portal will be available at pmrf site.  On 7 February 2018, Union Cabinet approved of the PMRF scheme under which 1000 best students with the eligibility criteria mentioned above will get direct PhD admission with fellowship ranging from Rs. 70000 to 80000. In addition to this, a research grant of Rs.2.00 lakh will be provided to each of the Fellows for a period of 5 years to cover their foreign travel expenses for presenting research papers in international conferences and seminars.

Candidates with B.Design admitted through JEE/UCEED and 4-year BS or B.Sc students of IISc, IITs, or IISERs admitted through JEE, KVPY and SCB are also eligible.  Applicants must send abstract on topics related to science and technology with focus on national priorities. The word limit of the abstract is 1000 words and must be sent in a PDF format. There will be written test and interview for the selection. The syllabus of the written test will be same as that of GATE/ JAM/ CEED and it will be held at the respective IIT or IISc whichever is the nodal institute. Interviews at nodal institutions will begin in the mid of May (exact date will be notified on the official website) and final list will be out by 1 June 2018.  Click here to Apply Online –   https://pmrf.in/

NPTEL, IIT Madras collaborate with Glass Academy Foundation

Economic Times | Anandi Chandrashekhar | ET Bureau| Feb 23, 2018 |

CHENNAI: IIT Madras to provide content for course, which is first-of-its-kind to be offered as a MOOCs in an open learning mode in India. The National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL) has tied up with the glass Industry to reach out to upcoming architects and civil engineers to create awareness on efficient use of glass in the construction sector. NPTEL in partnership with Indian Institute of Technology Madras, aims to take this course to 1,600 colleges and educational institutions in the country. NPTEL and IIT Madras, entered into an MoU with Glass Academy Foundation on 20th February 2018 signed by Bhaskar Ramamurthi, Director, IIT Madras, and C. N. Raghavendran, Chairman of Glass Academy Advisory Board. Along with other IITs, IIT Madras will provide content for the course, which will be offered as a Massive Online Open Course, in a first of its kind initiative. Andrew Thangaraj, NPTEL coordinator at IIT Madras, said, Collaborating with the industry is the next step for NPTEL to bridge the gap between academia and industry and make college graduates more job ready.

The first joint activity would be to co-offer online certification courses in the July-Dec 2018 Semester, targeted towards Architecture and Civil Engineering students. The possibility of offering internships and job opportunities to top performers of the course(s) are also being explored. The perfect home at the perfect price Radius Developers Senior citizen benefits in budget 2018 UTI Mutual Fund Recommended By Colombia Speaking on objective of the tie-up, CN Raghavendran said, Traditional materials have been the subject of study and training for decades. However, modern day glass as a material in construction is yet to become a subject of study and training in academic institutions. Our association with NPTEL will strengthen further by co-offering and co-certifying our courses as an elective to Architecture and Civil Engineering students. – Courtesy       /      http://www.glass-academy.com/