Two scientists do not agreed with the AICTE decision of giving flexibility to engineering colleges to admit students without mathematics and physics in high school. They do not like the idea of offering these students remedial bridge courses to cope in class.
AICTE, India’s technical education regulator, had last week tweaked the entry level qualification. The All India Council for Technical Education has made mathematics and physics at Class XII-level optional to get admissions to BE and B.Tech courses from 2021-22. In its latest handbook, the AICTE says 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.
K Vijay Raghavan, Principal Scientific Advisor, told The Indian Express that rigour and depth in mathematics and physics comes easily early on. He said it would be wiser to study these subjects in high school before seeking admission to BE and B.Tech programmes.
VK Saraswat, former head of Defence Research and Development Organization, now a member of NITI Aayog, described the decision as retrograde and a step in the wrong direction.
AICTE’s decision also drew strong criticism from S Vaidhyasubramaniam, vice-chancellor of SASTRA University. He said the bridge course is a remedial course for those who are weak in mathematics. “It cannot replace higher secondary-level mathematics, which is a foundational course. The AICTE’s model curriculum for engineering programmes has mathematics running up to fifth semester in almost all programmes. Mathematics and physics have to be compulsory for all engineering courses.”
Anil D Sahasrabudhe, AICTE chairman, told TOI that it is not the question of optional. “The choice of three mandatory courses required as input to engineering education are expanded, and hence for different disciplines, there could be different three mandatory courses.”
He explained that if a student without maths is admitted, he will be required to do a lot of math courses in first year. “Even earlier, direct second-year entrants from diploma holders needed extra maths courses. This will bring a lot of flexibility in line with National Education Policy and in the new system of 5+3+3+4, there would be no arts, science and commerce streams.”
However, Shasrabudhe said that for understanding engineering, one will need maths and physics, else a lot of bridge courses shall be required to come to the same level as those who have done the two core subjects.