Mathematics and physics rule for engineering not mandatory: AICTE

Academicians, especially in the engineering stream, had expressed concerns after the AICTE’s latest approval process handbook for 2021-22 changed the eligibility criteria for UG admissions for engineering and technology
After drawing flak for making mathematics and physics optional for engineering admissions, the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) on Friday said the move was only meant to help implement the National Education Policy (NEP). Clarifying that it was not mandatory to exclude these subjects for engineering admissions, the Council said it should be seen as a window of opportunity for universities wanting to open engineering admissions based on NEP.  

Academicians, especially in the engineering stream, had expressed concerns after AICTE's latest approval process handbook for 2021-22 changed the eligibility criteria for undergraduate (UG) admissions for engineering and technology. Currently, standard 12th level maths and physics are mandatory for getting admission in under-graduate programmes in engineering and technology. In the changed rules, maths and physics are part of a list of 12 optional subjects, of which only three are needed for eligibility.

The AICTE's approval process handbook for 2021-22 states that students have to pass 10+2 with any of the three following subjects - physics/mathematics/chemistry/computer science/electronics/information technology/biology/informatics practices/biotechnology/technical vocational subject/agriculture/engineering graphics/business studies/entrepreneurship. "The universities will offer suitable bridge courses such as mathematics, physics, engineering drawing for students coming from diverse backgrounds to achieve learning outcomes of the programme," according to the handbook. Candidates have to score 45 per cent marks in the subjects they opt for.

However, clarifying that the move would not have any immediate impact on admission to most engineering colleges or programmes, AICTE chairman Anil Sahasrabudhe said it was only made in preparation of future implementation of NEP.

"Today, classes 11 and 12 are water tight compartments where a student who goes to science stream will study only science. But in NEP, after 15 years of primary school education, the last four years will be generic where the candidate can go for UG studies across disciplines... So far, we have been working only in silos, building walls around us and not seeing beyond our domains. NEP has given a fresh opportunity and we are trying to make use of this... There is a new window being created where students who have not taken physics and maths in school can enter engineering education," said Sahasrabudhe.

The AICTE chairman said for the next academic session, maths and physics will still continue to be mandatory for under-graduate engineering programmes.

"Mathematics, physics and chemistry will still continue to be important for engineering for majority disciplines, barring some exceptions like ceramics and textiles. However, there is a lot of flexibility in NEP going forward which has been brought into this handbook. JEE and state entrance exams (CETs) may continue to hold exams in maths and physics and admissions will be based on them," Sahasrabudhe added.

Citing the example of Tamil Nadu, Sahasrabudhe said there were states that admitted students for engineering programmes on the basis of standard 12th scores and not through state entrance exams. It is for such cases that the admission criteria had been opened, he said.

"However, it does not mean that they should do it, but it is just being allowed. This is not being enforced upon anyone but an opportunity is being created. We are just opening a new window of opportunity so that if any university or state wants to open up its engineering admissions based on NEP, they can do so,’’ he said.

Universities are seeing this as a welcome move since they agree such changes will anyway take time to be implemented across the country.

"The changes should be of help by and large. The respective board of studies at universities and colleges will have to make provisions accordingly. Immediately accepting this change in eligibility as early as possible will be a bit difficult, but we will try to change ourselves academically,’’ said Visvesvaraya Technological University (VTU) registrar Anand Deshpande. One of the issues in such programmes where physics and maths are not required is that  admissions are very scant, he pointed out. ‘’As a result, there may not be any immediate change by a large margin in university curriculum but gradually there will be a change.’’

According to Deshpande, regulators and educational institutions are now beginning to understand the significance of making an early move towards NEP implementation.

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