Firms hiring engineers have been complaining about the poor quality of graduates churned out by the colleges.
The craze of engineering is slowly declining, with 48% of the total engineering seats across the country staying vacant. According to the latest information provided by the Ministry of Human Resource Development, out of the approved total intake of 30.93 lakh seats, only 15.96 lakh students enrolled for different engineering courses in 2015-16. There are 6,431 All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE)-approved engineering institutions in the country.
The number of students enrolling for engineering courses in 2015-16 is lower than the number in 2014-15. In that year, 17.21 lakh students had taken admission in various engineering courses, out of the total approved intake of 31.79 lakh seats. The number of enrolled students is not available for 2016-17, but the total approved intake is 29.96 lakh. The figures were provided by the Minister of State for HRD Mahendra Nath Pandey, while replying to a query in the Rajya Sabha. The Minister said that the filling up of seats in engineering colleges is dependent on the demand-supply situation. He, however, said many of these colleges are privately managed and there is no scheme by the government to encourage them.
Tamil Nadu, which has the largest number of engineering colleges (1,027), has reported a 48.1% vacancy (in 2015-16), while Maharashtra (799 colleges) has reported 47.7% vacancy. Karnataka, which has 506 colleges, reported 33.24% seats going vacant in 2015-16. As many as 52 engineering colleges were closed down in the country during the period. In 2016-17, the AICTE, which is the technical education regulator, had decided to close as many as 596 courses. Most of the courses which have been closed are of engineering, followed by management and pharmacy.
As per figures, as many as 54 engineering colleges were closed down during 2016-17. Sources said the massive slash is primarily because of the fact that the number of seats in technical institutions has outnumbered students.
A source said that during the UPA rule, the government promoted the opening of private engineering colleges, which charged hefty fees from the students. However, no sincere effort was made to improve the quality of education in those institutions. There have been complaints from the companies hiring the engineers about the poor quality of graduates in the institutes. “Slowdown in the manufacturing sector also added to the problem. The demand for engineering gradually started declining. As a result, students stopped taking admission in engineering colleges other than in the top ones like IITs. There was also a shortage of quality faculty members,” said a faculty member of IIT-Delhi.