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Six states, Haryana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Telangana, have written to the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) urging the regulator to declare a “holiday” on establishment of new engineering colleges in these states from 2018.
With the trend of vacant seats in technical programmes continuing unabated even this year, these states have also requested AICTE to impose a temporary ban on capacity expansion in existing institutes. Engineering makes up 70 per cent of technical education in India. Management (MBA), pharmacy, computer applications (MCA), architecture, town planning, hotel management and ‘applied arts and crafts’ form the rest. Of the 15.5 lakh BE/BTech seats in 3,291 engineering colleges across the country, 51 per cent were vacant in 2016-17, according to AICTE data recently investigated by The Indian Express.
AICTE Chairman Anil Sahasrabudhe said that the Council has accepted the suggestions of four — Haryana, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Telangana — of the six states and any future approval to new institutes there will only be given keeping their views in mind. “Himachal Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh have simply asked us to not permit any new institutes. This isn’t good enough. Haryana, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Telangana have backed their plea with reasons and even with a perspective plan. So we have asked the two states (MP and HP) to do the same for us to consider their request,” said Sahasrabudhe.
In 2016-17, 58 per cent of 98,247 B.E/B.Tech seats in MP found no takers. In HP, 74 per cent of the 7,830 seats were vacant last year. A three-month long investigation by this newspaper to find why engineering seats were going unfilled found glaring gaps in regulation, including alleged corruption; a vicious circle of poor infrastructure, labs and faculty; non-existent linkages with industry and the absence of a technical ecosystem that can nurture the classroom. All this accounting for low employability of graduates and, therefore, an abysmal record of job placement. In short, a steady devaluation of Brand BE/BTech.
AICTE’s enrolment data analysed by The Indian Express had shown that crisis in engineering education was at its worst in Haryana. At 74 per cent, the state had the highest proportion of vacant engineering seats in 2016-17. In its letter addressed to AICTE, the technical education department of Haryana has estimated that almost 70 per cent of its BTech seats were left vacant even in the current academic year. The abysmal admission record has prompted the state to seek a two-year moratorium (2018-19 and 2019-10) on new technical institutes. Haryana has also suggested that the regulator should not permit any increase seats in existing institutes “without ensuring quality training of students … by way of results, placements and potential applicants/admissions etc.”
“The need of the hour is to improve the quality of existing technical institutions, rather than the capacity in terms of institutions/intake. The concept of self-financing institutions needs to be reviewed in view of its relevance as large number of seats are lying vacant and due to lack of resources, the quality of training is severely affected,” the technical education department of the state had said in its letter to AICTE.
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“The students passed out from these institutions remain unemployed due to lack of skill resulting in great loss to the society. Institutions have lower admissions below a threshold for the last three years may be closed in order to ensure good quality training to students. However, the institutions established by the government of india/state government in future having built-in quality mechanism and sufficient resources may be allowed to be opened,” the state has further suggested. Similarly, Telangana, where 47 per cent of 1.4 lakh BTech seats had found no takers last year, has asked AICTE to “declare a holiday” on establishment of new engineering colleges from next year and this holiday “may also be extended to B.Pharmacy, MBA/MCA Institutions”.
Telangana, however, wants the Council to make an exception only for educationally backward districts of the state. That apart, it wants that the regulator should not sanction intake in excess of 120 seats per branch at the undergraduate level and 24 at the postgraduate level. Telangana is also not in favour of permitting engineering colleges in the state to start a “second shift”.
Chhattisgarh, with 63 per cent of the 22,934 undergraduate engineering seats vacant in 2016-17, has urged to regulator that new institutes should only be approved with “prior consultation with the state and only in those districts where there is no engineering college and industrial development in taking place” and no capacity expansion in engineering courses.
“Institutes or branches with less than 10 per cent admission over last three years should be closed down immediately,” reads the state’s letter, which also informed AICTE that the proportion of empty seats in undergraduate engineering programme in the current year had increased to almost 67 per cent. Rajasthan, which had 67 per cent of its 58,013 BTech seats left unoccupied last year, wants that no new private technical institution should be allowed in the state except for three districts Jaisalmer, Kasauli and Udaipur.