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Are engineering and management courses losing their appeal,or is the growth of institutes outpacing that of students? Maharashtra,once considered a safe bet by thousands of students,is today grappling with massive vacancies in engineering,management and other courses that come under the All India Council for Technical Education.
Of 1.35 lakh engineering seats in Maharashtra,53,264 or nearly 40 per cent are vacant,according to data provided by the Directorate of Technical Education,Maharashtra. In MBA,24,213 of 36,447 seats,or two-thirds,are vacant. Pune has the most vacancies in either stream,with Nagpur and Mumbai close behind. And it is part of a nationwide trend.
We cannot stop giving approval to new colleges if they fulfil all eligibility criteria. We will,however,take a review of the concerns of state governments before the start of the 2014-15 approval process, says S S Mantha,chairman of the All India Council for Technical Education. We must also take into consideration the fact that these vacancies are in certain sectors and specific courses,not spread across [courses in the same manner.
DTE officials in Maharashtra say vacancies are larger in programmes such as IT,civil engineering and electrical engineering,with students preferring courses that carry a better promise of good placements,such as computer science,mechanical engineering,and electronics and telecommunication engineering.
In Mumbai,the number of vacant engineering seats ranges between two or three in some colleges and up to 293 in one. Among reputable colleges,Veermata Jijabai Technological Institute has 27 vacant seats,Sardar Patel Institute of Technology has 19,and K J Somaiya College of Engineering 15.
In Mumbai’s MBA institutes,the vacancies go up to 270 but some have filled all seats this year. The latter include Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies,K J Somaiya Institute of Management Studies & Research,and SIES College of Management Studies.
Students who want to take admission to engineering colleges have plateaued,but the number of new colleges has been increasing, says IIT Bombay professor Deepak Phatak. This will result in vacancies as students have a multiplicity of choices. It takes seven to eight years for a new institute to establish itself. Only those with good intentions and sustaining capability will survive.
Cause & remedy
A committee that looked into vacancies over 35 per cent in Maharashtra identifies several reasons.
Students want to study only at popular and good colleges in Mumbai,Pune,Nashik,Aurangabad,Amravati and Nagpur only, says the the report of the 15-member committee,headed by Dayanand Meshram,joint director,DTE,and submitted recently to the Maharashtra government. They dont want admission to courses that cannot guarantee jobs. Courses that can lead to prompt campus interviews are also high on their agenda.
Other reasons identified by the committee include high fees at non-aided institutes,lack of infrastructure in rural ones,and the emergence of colleges in other states,which has brought down the number of outstation students in Maharashtra.
It suggests limiting the number of seats being approved,depending on an institutes facilities and whether it is accredited. For engineering,it suggests a minimum of 300 and a maximum of 420,with 600 permissible for institutes accredited with National Board of Accreditation. For MBA,MMS and PDGM,it suggests between 60 and 120,and 180 if NBA-accredited.
It recommends a 1:3 ratio between degree and diploma intakes and suggests degree seats be kept down to maintain that. It says all institutes should make public the details of their intake capacity,actual enrolment,placements,and complaints with various cells.
Only 20 percent of the graduates are employable today, it adds. The measures it suggests include filling up teaching posts and encouraging teachers to upgrade their skills.
Trends in conflict
The vacancies come alongside,and in spite of,three parallel trends across the country a massive growth in actual student intake,relaxed eligibility criteria for admission,and the closure of a number of institutes.
In the six academic years from 2007-08 to 2012-13,the number of students admitted across technical disciplines has multiplied from 9,07,822 to 22,36,743. In engineering,it has risen from 6,53,290 to 17,61,976; in management from 94,704 to 3,85,008.
In 2011,AICTE lowered the eligibility criteria for engineering programmes from 50 per cent in class XII physics-chemistry-maths to 45 per cent for general seats and 40 per cent for reserved seats.
The same year,AICTE started approving applications for closing down institutes,mostly with a large number of vacant seats. From 2011-12 to 2012-13,those shut down have included 52 engineering institutes (13,463 seats) and 225 management institutes (11,692 seats). During 2013-14,AICTE has approved another 106 of 182 closure applications. Simultaneouly,it has approvated 156 of 575 applications for new colleges.
Andhra Pradesh had the most closures of engineering institues in 2011-12 and 2012-13 13 with 3,642 seats followed by Rajasthan at seven institutes with 1,842 seats. In Maharashtra,three engineering colleges with 840 seats have been allowed to shut.
In management,too,Andhra Pradesh headed the list with the closure of 70 institutes with 4,080 seats,followed again by Rajasthan with 35 institutes with 2,280 seats. Maharashtra was next,with 28 institutes with 1,740 seats,followed by UP (24 colleges,1,860 seats),and Madhya Pradesh and Punjab with 17 closures each.