Effectively, seats of pharmacy and architecture have not been reduced, but taken over by their respective regulatory bodies.


New Delhi: More than 1.53 lakh seats in technical institutions, affiliated to the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), have been reduced due to closure of the institutions or the courses, for the academic year 2020-21. This has happened despite the fact that new management and polytechnic engineering institutes have added their seats.

As many as 179 professional colleges have been shut in India in 2020-21 due to lack of job opportunities and the lockdown imposed due to Covid-19 pandemic, which resulted in a reduction of 34,553 seats under the AICTE. This is besides the reduction in the number of seats (more than 1.09 lakh) and institutes as a result of Supreme Court judgment rendering approval of AICTE non-mandatory in respect of Architecture and Pharmacy institutes. However, these seats are not abolished but continuing with the Pharmacy Council of India (PCI) and Council of Architecture (COA).

The lockdown imposed due to the outbreak of Covid-19 had created severe challenges to all sectors of governance, said an AICTE official. “The Council converted the current crisis into a grand opportunity by adopting e-governance mechanisms, thereby reducing the costs with no travel and enhancing the reliability, accuracy and overall transparency of the regulatory process. A pragmatic shift in the annual approval process was necessitated and adopted by AICTE by innovating the entire process through a novel online mechanism for undertaking the scrutiny of documents and virtual visit of the technical institutions,” he said.

The approval process for 2020-2021 was a considerable departure from the previous years on several counts. Due to the imposition and subsequent extensions of lockdown, the approval process was delayed. It was initiated in May and was completed in end of June. Moreover, the rigorous scrutiny which was undertaken physically at various regional offices was conducted via an online process. This involved using online video-conferencing for stakeholders to connect, verification of infrastructure and campus facilities virtually and uploading digitally signed documents.

As per a recent Supreme Court judgment, for functioning of existing and setting up of new Architecture and Pharmacy colleges, approval of only “Council of Architecture” and “Pharmacy Council of India” respectively will be mandatory with effect from academic year 2020-2021.As a result, the approval of AICTE has been made non-mandatory. Consequently, many of these colleges have withdrawn their affiliation and approval from the AICTE, resulting in bulk reduction of seats. But effectively, the seats of pharmacy and architecture have not been reduced, but taken over by their respective regulatory bodies.

Also, a few AICTE approved colleges have not sought approval this year in view of the large number of seats lying vacant over the last five years, thus making it unviable for continuing the institution. Moreover, as per AICTE policy and guidelines, there has been 50% reduction in seats in the colleges where enrolment has been less than 30% of approved intake consecutively for the last five years.

As per AICTE data, there were a total 32,09,703 seats in 2019-20 in 10,992 institutes spread all over the country. However, this number has come down to 30,88,512 in 9,691 institutes. However, as many as 39,656 seats were added also in 164 institutes due to approval of new institutes for academic year 2020-21.

Similarly, 1,02,397 seats were added due to application for new courses / increase in intake in the existing institutes for academic year 2020-21.