Devalued Degree: Encourage good colleges, shut the bad; experts suggest

Devalued Degree: Encourage good colleges, shut the bad; experts suggest

An Express Investigation - Part IV: From a mechanism to predict demand for engineers to redefining AICTE’s role — experts offer their policy prescriptions to check the problem of vacant seats in engineering colleges.

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Only 4% seats vacant at the SJC Institute of Technology in Chikkaballapur, Karnataka. (Express photo: Kashif Masood)

From a mechanism to predict demand for engineers to redefining AICTE’s role — experts offer their policy prescriptions to check the problem of vacant seats in engineering colleges

RC Bhargava
Chairman, Maruti Suzuki

“We have taken over a number of ITIs (Industrial Training Institutes) from various state governments, who have given us a free hand in managing these institutions. We have upgraded them by training their teachers and changing equipment which was outdated by 30 to 40 years. If this is the state of ITIs, then most engineering colleges will be no different.

“I think the AICTE should come in on the syllabus front. The syllabus followed by institutes does not reflect the current requirement of the industry. Today methods of production are very different from what they were 30 years ago. Also, I think AICTE needs to consult industries if they don’t know how to revise the syllabus.”

Sanjay Dhande
Former director of IIT Kanpur

“I think the whole criteria of evaluation and acceptance or approval (by AICTE) is totally fraud. That is what has led to this situation (of vacant engineering seats). Nobody is applying any mind to giving approvals. When you start a college, I think all the questions related to the jobs situation, viability have to be evaluated rather than evaluating whether you have got two square feet here and whether you have got five classrooms.”


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Anil Kakodkar
Nuclear scientist and former chairman of IIT Bombay

“We should be very liberal if an institution wants to close down. That will create some kind of a consolidation. Also, if two colleges are running at less than 50% capacity, the regulator could close down one and shift students to the other. So the regulator will have to encourage the good institutions to continue and discourage the bad ones from continuing. In fact encourage them to shut down.”

Pankaj Chandra
Former director of IIM Bangalore, currently V-C of Ahmedabad University

“I think AICTE controls where it should not control and does not control where it should. See, AICTE controls curriculum — the details of what goes into an electronics programme. That’s terrible because those are no reasons why the regulator has all the wisdom to be able to define that. But when an institution does not follow norms, it doesn’t come down heavily on them. AICTE’s role should be to work with institutions, create an MoU with them, create a 10-year plan with them. The plan will help the regulator guide these institutions in investment in laboratories and future expansion. And you also must also see who are the people running these engineering institutions. These are largely politicians. What wisdom do they have to run an institution?”

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“Also, the root cause of this problem is that institutes do not have enough resources. The government should look at global models of engaging with academic institutions, which I think has changed from control to enormous amount of self correction. I think the government needs to ensure that there are jobs in manufacturing. I mean, I don’t think Make in India is working.

Mohandas Pai
Former Infosys board member and chairman of Manipal Global Education

The government must understand engineering education is all about university and college management. If the college management is good and has been around for 10 years, then it will get good faculty. The government must allow the 1,000 top engineering colleges to grow and get more students. If each of these 1,000 colleges are permitted an intake of 1,000 students per year, that’s 10 lakh students, which meets the country’s requirement. So all bad ones will shut down. If government wants to help aspirants from rural areas, they can start new scholarships for them. That apart, the government should create a research fund and raise the admission cut-off to 55%. People who have an aptitude will pursue engineering. You don’t need more regulations.”

Read | Devalued Degree: To fill empty seats, colleges lower bar, hire agents to cast their net

Rajiv Kumar
Vice-chairman, NITI Aayog


“We need a much more watchful and diligent regulator and the openness to participate in global tests and competitions… (AICTE will) have to weed out fly-by-night operators and crass commericalisation of education will have to be prevented.”