AICTE to cut number of engineering seats by 600,000

  • Decision appreciated by Private engineering colleges

Lata Jain

Looking at the number of engineering colleges in India and the number of engineers coming out of these colleges, the questions that form in everyone’s minds are, “does India need so many engineers?” Are they all employable? The negativism brought forth by such questions has crippled engineering education in India. Currently, the country has a total of 16.7 lakh engineering seats in over 3,400 colleges. Around 45-50% seats are lying vacant in India for the past three years.

A basket has 27 bananas and no other fruit. Kasi draws a fruit from the bag. What is the probability that he will draw a banana?

An embarrassing 30 per cent of the India’s qualified and educating engineers cannot solve a problem as simple as the one above, a study has found. Their ineptitude, however, is not limited to just sums of probability.

It’s worse as over one-third of the students do not possess mathematical skills needed in day-to-day life for doing simple transactions, counting and arranging. In other words, they have a weak understanding of concepts as elementary as decimals, powers, operations, ratio, fractions and the ability to apply these concepts to real-world problems.

It’s probably not surprising why less than 25 per cent of the engineers joining the workforce every year are seen as unemployable by the industry.

For the first time in several years, the overall number of engineering seats has come down by about 30,000 seats in 2015, according to AICTE.

Student intake at the undergraduate level in engineering colleges started picking up from 2006-07. From 659,717 engineering seats in 2006, it jumped to 1.22 million in 2010 and more than 1.67 million in 2015. India has more than 3,470 engineering colleges. The AICTE chief Sahasrabudhe said for the first time in the country, BTech seats fell by 27,000 in the current academic year as colleges cut down on their intake capacity, breaking the trend of capacity enhancement. Three colleges shut down completely. “We hope there would be a cut of 30,000 to 40,000 more seats in the next academic year,” he told reporters.

In a bid to tackle the problem of degrading education quality for aspiring engineers All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) has decided to cut its undergraduate seats by 40 percent.

The council will also shut down some schools and decrease the number of admissions over the next few years. AICTE is the statutory body and national level council for technical education in India under Department of Higher Education, Ministry of Human Resource Development. According to the reports, AICTE is likely to bring down the number of of engineering students from 16.6 lakh to 10 lakh- 11 lakh. In the year 2015, the council has shut down 556 courses/departments of engineering colleges.

In 2015 alone, according to data from the Directorate of Technical Education (DTE), only 1.07 lakh students applied for the Centralized Admission Process (CAP) to around 1.56 lakh engineering degree seats in colleges across Maharashtra. Of the 1, 07, 147 applications received by DTE this year, 76,758 applicants were male and 30,389 were girls.

Engineering is traditionally considered a “respectable” degree in India – a route out of poverty and into a well-paid job. But there may be fewer of those jobs to go round. For a developing country like India, opportunities for engineers lie in core engineering fields such as power, infrastructure, manufacturing etc. However, engineering students prefer to move into IT. This leaves the core engineering sectors looking at a deficit as far as a talented workforce is concerned.”

A growing gap between the demands of industry and the education and skills that many universities offer has resulted in a generation of overqualified but underemployed – and dissatisfied – graduates.

“Several sub-standard business schools graduate their students without any exposure to industry or any form of work experience. Students lack both soft skills and technical skills. As such, they are unemployable,” said Premchand Paley, chief executive of the Centre for Forecasting and Research, or C fore, a multidisciplinary research organization based in Gurgaon near New Delhi.

The ASSOCHAM survey said students were equally to blame. “Students are not concerned about the quality of education in an institute; they only want to know the placement and salary statistics and discounts offered on the fee structure, and this has spoiled the entire education system,” Rawat a professor noted.

India has had wild and unregulated increases in both management and engineering institutions in the past decade – it has 360,000 management seats and 1.5 million engineering places on offer.

Most of the growth has occurred in the private for-profit sector, with private institutions contributing to 80% of enrolments in professional programmes’.

AICTE will only “facilitate the closure of engineering schools” entirely or in parts to achieve the target, said Sahasrabudhe, who took over as chairman in June. He, however, added that engineering colleges will not be forced to shut down.

However, the large number of vacant seats is already taking a toll on engineering courses. As many as 556 engineering courses or departments have closed down this year alone, according to data available with AICTE. That number is, however, less than half the 1,422 applications that the regulator received seeking permission to shut engineering departments or courses.

Private engineering colleges welcomed the AICTE chief’s suggestions. “There is no doubt that supply has exceeded demand. It is a welcome move to bridge the gap,” said Odisha Private Engineering College Association secretary Binod Dash. The same was the response in other states too.

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