The dipping demand for engineering courses have left both the state government and the All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE) in a dilemma. At present, more than 40 per cent seats are lying unoccupied in engineering colleges across Maharashtra.
Even as some colleges struggle to make ends meet as they lose out on fee, the government and AICTE appear to be passing the buck to each other, without coming to a concrete decision.
Earlier this week, the Directorate of Technical Education (DTE) wrote to the AICTE — the apex body governing engineering colleges across the country — to take action against colleges that have more than 35 per cent unoccupied seats.
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“We have written to the AICTE as well as all universities in the state to look into the colleges where many seats are vacant,” said Dayanand Meshram, joint director, DTE. He said the DTE had no power to reduce intake or shut colleges down. “We can only bring it to the attention of AICTE and the universities. These bodies have laws of their own and can take necessary decisions,” he said.
Meanwhile, the AICTE has said it was a policy matter and the governing body had no power in reducing intake or closing colleges based on enrolment figures. “The AICTE can take action against colleges only in case of non-compliance of guidelines, such as in case of infrastructure, teacher-student ratio, fee irregularities. Enrolment is not one of the guidelines,” said Ramesh Unnikrishnan, AICTE director for Western Region.
Earlier, The Indian Express had reported that the demand for engineering courses had dropped with 44 per cent seats lying vacant this year. Industry experts and academicians had attributed the phenomenon to poor quality of education and a dearth of jobs in the market.
After the state government commissioned an analysis into the drop in demand, GD Yadav, Vice Chancellor of Institute of Chemical Technology, Mumbai, had presented a report to the state in 2014. Another suggestion was to devise an appropriate criteria to reduce intake. He had also suggested “closure of some programmes including mergers of branches with fancy nomenclature into mainstream.” However, the state is yet to implement the recommendations of Yadav.
Yadav said the state and the AICTE want the colleges to voluntarily close down. “It won’t be viable for such colleges to operate for long as they won’t be able to generate enough revenue. They will be forced to shut down and the AICTE will then grant permissions to the colleges to do so,” said Yadav who said the state government needs to proactively suggest measures to the AICTE to either reduce intake or close the colleges that have low enrolment rates.
Unnikrishnan, too, said a policy measure is necessary to address the problem.