Maths, Physics no longer mandatory for engineering entry

Students without background will get bridge courses, says AICTE

Prospective engineering students will not have to mandatorily study Maths and Physics in Class 12, according to new norms released by the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) for 2021-22.

Council Chairperson Anil Sahasrabudhe defended the changes on Friday, saying they are in line with the multi-disciplinary approach of the new National Education Policy.

Till now, only those who opted for Physics and Maths in higher secondary school were eligible to apply for B.E. and B.Tech programmes. Chemistry was removed as a mandatory requirement in 2010.

List of 14 subjects

However, according to the AICTE’s approval process handbook for 2021-22, students only need to score 45% in any three subjects from a list of 14 in order to qualify. The diverse list includes Physics, Mathematics, Chemistry, Computer Science, Electronics, Information Technology, Biology, Informatics Practices, Biotechnology, Agriculture, technical vocational subject, Engineering Graphics, Business Studies and Entrepreneurship.

“The universities will offer suitable bridge courses such as mathematics, physics, engineering drawing, etc for the students coming from diverse backgrounds to achieve [the] desired learning outcome of the programme,” said the handbook.

“The new NEP is all about breaking silos and promoting multi-disciplinarity. We are creating flexibility. We must also recognise the wide range of engineering programmes. We have some 240-odd specialisations and not all of them have the same requirements,” Dr. Sahasrabudhe told The Hindu.

He pointed out that to apply for a programme like biotechnology, it is currently mandatory to study physics in school, but not biology. “Which is more relevant here? It would be more helpful for that student to have a biology background,” he said.

More opportunities

Dr. Sahasrabudhe agreed that Physics, Chemistry and Maths would remain the bedrock of most engineering programmes, but argued that students who did not study these subjects in Class 12 could still take bridge courses in the first year of a BE degree programme. “They may bring expertise from other areas which could also be valuable,” he said, pointing out that vocational or business skills were also worthwhile. “We are simply creating a window of opportunity.”

He pointed out that for the last 25 years, diploma students, who leave school after Class 10, have already been allowed to join the second year of BE degree programmes. “They probably get one semester of Maths after Class 10, in comparison to a student who gets six semesters of Maths through Class 11, 12 and BE first year. And still diploma students are able to manage second year BE, and some of them have even won gold medals as well,” he said.

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