Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday expressed concern over the deteriorating quality of engineering graduates, saying that “it is our social responsibility to ensure that not just quantity, but also the quality of our engineers is of the highest standard”.
“Every year, around 7 lakh engineers are graduating out of campuses, but some of them are not skilled enough. I would urge the teachers and academicians to ideate and suggest measures to improve the quality of engineers we are producing,” he said, addressing the 56th annual convocation of the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay (IIT-B).
The Indian Express, in a series last December, reported on the steady devaluation of Brand BE/ BTech, caused by 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 could nurture the classroom. Of the 15.5 lakh BE/ BTech seats in 3,291 engineering colleges across the country (not including IITs), over half (51 per cent) were vacant in 2016-17. Last year, over half of 14 lakh engineering seats had no takers.
The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) had announced that technical courses where student admission was less than 30 per cent in the last five years would have their intake reduced by half from the academic year starting July 2018. This year, at 14.9 lakh seats, the total engineering intake in the country witnessed the sharpest fall in five years, according to data released by AICTE in April. The total number of B.Tech and M.Tech seats this year, across all AICTE-approved institutes, dropped by 1.67 lakh, which is double the dip witnessed in 2017-18. Addressing the outgoing batch of engineering graduates and PhD scholars at IIT-B on Saturday, the Prime Minister urged them to use their knowledge and focus on innovation.
“IIT-Bombay is one of the institutes that will help develop India’s new technology. In the coming decades, how the country will develop will be decided by technology. In this, the role of IIT-B is very important, be it in IT broadband technology, artificial intelligence, blockchain technology, big data analysis or machine learning. These are important for the vision of smart manufacturing and smart cities,” said Modi.
“IIT is not merely a technology institute but has now become India’s instrument of transformation. The world looks at IITs as a nursery for unicorn startups,” he said, adding that innovation and enterprise would be the foundation stones for a developed India.
The prime minister also said that IIT-B should take the initiative and become a “city-based cluster of science”, where students, teachers, industry and the scientific community come together for research and development. The institute awarded degrees to 2,621 students and 380 PhD scholars on Saturday. According to the annual report, presented by IIT-B Director Devang Khakhar, 75 students have got international job offers, as compared to 67 in 2016-17. However, the total number of job offers made during campus placements continued to drop. While 1,143 students received offers in 2015-16, the number dropped to 1,114 last year, and to 1,101 this year.
Meanwhile, the average gross salary offered has improved, from Rs 11.41 lakh per annum in 2016-17 to Rs12.69 lakh per annum in 2017-18. The engineering and technology sector was the biggest recruiter, followed by IT, analytics and consulting.