NEW DELHI: Engineering and technical institutions have to begin classes for freshers from October 25 and for existing students from October 1, according to the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) revised academic calendar approved by the Supreme Court on Monday.

The calendar was prepared keeping in mind the Covid-19 pandemic and the delay in declaring the Class 12 results of the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and other state boards. The results are expected to be announced by July 31.

The AICTE calendar was approved by a bench of justices L Nageswara Rao and Aniruddha Bose who said that an exception is being made to the schedule only on account of the pandemic.

While dates of the entrance examination by various institutions are yet to be announced, AICTE has asked all technical institutions to complete the first round of counseling by September 30, and second round by October 10. Those who wish to seek cancellation of seats in the first semester will get a full fee refund if they apply before October 15. Institutions will have time till October 20 to fill up these vacancies.

In standalone institutions providing post-graduate diploma in management (PGDM) or certificate courses in management, the last date for admissions will be August 11. For open and distance learning courses or courses taught through the online medium, admissions will close on September 10 for the first session and February 1, 2022 for the second session, as per the AICTE’s revised schedule.

The revised calendar for the present academic session 2021-22 was presented to the top court in an application by AICTE through advocate Harish Pandey. Admission to engineering and technical courses follow an academic calendar fixed by the Supreme Court back in December 2012 that cannot be modified without permission of the top court.

As per this order, classes for engineering and technical courses are to commence from August 1 every year and vacancies, if any, are to be filled up by colleges/institutions before August 15.

Last year also, this schedule could not be followed as admissions were delayed due to the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. The AICTE revised the schedule thrice during the previous year – first in August, then in October and lastly in November. Eventually, the deadline for commencement of classes last year was December 1 and students were allowed to seek cancellation of admission with full fee refund till November 30, 2020.

This year, the second wave of Covid-19 pandemic forced AICTE to submit a revised calendar for approval to the court. Appearing for the AICTE, additional solicitor general (ASG) KM Nataraj told the apex court that technical institutions were able to commence classes for 2020-21 only in January 2021 and even the second semester exams got delayed due to the pandemic.

For fresh admissions, the results of the Class 12 Board exams, generally out by June first week, have been delayed till July 31, ASG Nataraj said. Due to lockdown in several states, AICTE could not complete inspection of institutions that sought grant of approval or affiliation.

The court allowed AICTE time till July 15 to grant approval to technical institutions, standalone PGDM institutions and other institutions offering open, distance learning and online medium courses. The deadline for approving affiliation by any university or board to any technical institution was also extended to August 10, 2021.

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