On the recommendations of Engineering Personnel Committee (EPC) set up by the Planning Commission in 1955, eight Regional Engineering Colleges (RECs) (two in each regions - east, west, north & south) were set up in early sixties as joint and co-operative ventures of the Central and State Governments concerned with a view to provide the required technical manpower for the industrial projects being contemplated during the 2nd Five-Year Plan (1956-61). These institutes were registered as autonomous bodies under the Society Registration Act 1860 and affiliated to the State Universities in their respective regions. Gradually Seventeen Regional Engineering Colleges (RECs) were established in various States as a joint and co-operative enterprise of the Central and the State Governments concerned. Each REC was to function as an all-India institution admitting students and recruiting faculty from all parts of the country. Fifty percent of the admissions of these institutions (each of which was meant to be equipped for a total annual student intake of 250) was reserved for students from States other than the one in which they are located. In addition to under-graduate courses, these colleges also offered Post-graduate courses in various fields.
The main aim of setting up these RECs was to create the required technical manpower by providing undergraduate education and training in different branches of engineering & technology. Further, the RECs were also envisaged to function as pace setters and to provide academic leadership to the technical institutions in their respective regions.
In 2003, the Seventeen erstwhile Regional Engineering Colleges (RECs) were rechristened as National Institute of Technology (NITs) and taken over as fully funded institutes of the Central Government and granted deemed university status. In addition, Central Government has also taken over 3 other Institutes namely Bihar Engineering Colleges, Patna, Government Engineering College, Raipur and Tripura Engineering Colleges, Agartala, and converted them into National Institute of Technology (NITs) on 28th January 2004, 1st December, 2005 and 1st April, 2006 respectively. Thus the total number of NITs has gone up to 20. These institutes are expected to be at par with other national level technical institutes and be able to fulfill the demand of high quality undergraduate and postgraduate level of education in engineering and technology. An Act, namely the National Institute of Technology Act, 2007 has since been enacted by Parliament so as to provide a common statutory framework