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New AICTE guidelines: Niti member and Scientific Advisor urge caution

Two eminent scientists working with the Union authorities have cautioned towards AICTE’s resolution to provide engineering schools the pliability to confess college students with out arithmetic and physics in highschool and supply them remedial bridge programs to manage at school.

Principal Scientific Advisor Okay VijayRaghavan advised The Indian Express that “rigour and depth in mathematics and physics comes easier early on” and that it will be wiser to check these topics in highschool earlier than in search of admission to BE and B.Tech programmes. Scientist V Okay Saraswat, former head of Defence Research and Development Organisation and now a member of the NITI Aayog, known as the choice “retrograde” and a “step in the wrong direction”.

VijayRaghavan and Saraswat have undergraduate levels in engineering from IIT Kanpur and Madhav Institute of Technology and Science in Gwalior respectively.

Last week, AICTE, India’s technical training regulator, tweaked the entry-level qualification for undergraduate engineering programmes making college students who haven’t studied both physics or arithmetic (or each) in Classes 11 and 12 eligible for admission.

Under the brand new norms, a candidate is predicted to have scored at the very least 45% in any three topics out of a listing of 14 — physics, arithmetic, chemistry, pc science, electronics, info expertise, biology, informatics practices, biotechnology, technical vocational topic, engineering graphics, enterprise research, and entrepreneurship.

Earlier, an engineering aspirant ought to have handed highschool with physics and arithmetic as obligatory topics.

The regulator has been defending the modifications on the bottom that they’re in step with the brand new National Education Policy’s multidisciplinary method. AICTE chairman Anil Sahasrabuddhe stated final week that the modifications, which aren’t binding on institutes and schools, will “open a window of opportunity” for college students from various educational backgrounds to pursue engineering, particularly branches like textile and biotechnology the place, he argued, a sophisticated information of physics and arithmetic shouldn’t be required and will be fulfilled with bridge programs in faculty.

The Principal Scientific Advisor, nevertheless, advised The Indian Express that these “flexibilities must be exercised with care”.

“There could also be some areas of pure sciences and social sciences the place a high-school information of arithmetic (or physics) is probably not important however even right here a robust education in logic, quantitative approaches, arithmetic and physics realized early is efficacious.

“What is true for the natural and social sciences is, of course, true of engineering of every kind. For example, a high-quality biotechnology course without, at the least, a strong high-school level training in physics and mathematics to start with is difficult to progress through. A good course will require advanced methods in statistics, computer science, probability, the physics of motion, and of colloids, and so on,” he stated.

On the proposal to supply bridge programs to college students, he stated: “It will be the rare individual who comes in unschooled and reaches par through a bridging course. Rigour and depth in mathematics and physics comes easier early on. It will be wiser to reach a high-school level in these subjects before applying and wiser for colleges to require this, and not sort to bridging courses as the main route.”

Saraswat echoed this. “An engineering programme spans four years. A student with a background in physics and mathematics will have to study the bridge course for at least two semesters. Such a student (needing remedial courses) will be completely at loss in (B.Tech) class. How can you expect a student to learn the letters of the alphabet and appreciate poetry at the same time?” he requested.

Saraswat added, “There is a renewed focus on STEM. Even MBBS doctors are now using mathematics. You no longer argue that just because I am a biologist I do not need to know physics. This is a retrograde step.”

According to him, the one method AICTE’s resolution might work is that if college students from various educational backgrounds first spend a 12 months learning the bridge course, earlier than beginning regular courses of the engineering programme. “You cannot attend the bridge course and normal classes simultaneously,” he stated.

Professor Guhan Jayaraman, head of the biotechnology division at IIT-Madras, stated AICTE’s proposal isn’t precisely new. Many personal universities, he stated, are already admitting college students with out arithmetic in highschool to biotechnology programmes and declare to supply them bridge programs to manage at school.

“But when the graduates of these colleges come to an IIT for Ph.D, we have seen that these students cannot use simple mathematical formulations to answer our questions. To give you an example, these students will not be able to calculate the number of infected people in a month based on the infection’s R naught value. So it’s not as if this (bridge course) model is really working,” he advised this newspaper.

TV Mohandas Pai, chairman of Manipal Global Education that runs Manipal Academy of Higher Education, stated the AICTE’s transfer is sweet in case of B.Tech programmes that don’t require an understanding of “high level of mathematics”. He steered the bridge programs must be accomplished earlier than beginning formal courses.

Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, chairperson and managing director of Biocon Limited, stated that the tweak can work for biotechnology. “Without a background in maths you can still pursue biotechnology, but you will end up limiting your opportunities. There are some realms of biotechnology that do not require an advanced knowledge of maths… I didn’t have mathematics as a subject, but I am working in this area,” she stated.

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