According to All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) data, Engineering colleges in Telangana, Maharashtra, Kerala, Odisha and West Bengal, to name a few, have no takers for around 50% of seats available in various streams. Anil D Sahasrabudhe, chairman, AICTE, says that vacant seats in Engineering colleges is not a new phenomenon. “The situation has been almost the same for the last 7-8 years. The primary reason for this vacancy is that some of the states were granted seats more than their requirements which resulted in the shortage of candidates for technical courses,” says Sahasrabudhe.
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Another reason is the random opening of several private universities that have been opened by the Act of the State Legislature concerned. “These universities do not come under the purview of AICTE, and they have a huge number of seats available for Engineering courses. Students are getting attracted to their fancy infrastructure and sprawling campuses and opt for these universities instead of AICTE approved colleges in Tier II and Tier III cities,” adds AICTE chairman.
According to GK Viswanadh, professor of Civil Engineering & director UGC-HRDC, JNTUH, Hyderabad, the vacant seats in Engineering colleges should not be seen as a negative trend. “Fewer applications in Engineering colleges can be seen as a sign of changing mindset. It seems that students and parents have gradually started thinking about career options other than Engineering,” says Viswanadh, who believes that those who used to go for technical courses after class XII must be exploring other avenues including BPharm, BBA and other professional courses.
On the shortage of job opportunities for Engineering graduates and its impact on enrolment, Viswanadh explains that the rising vacant seats in Engineering colleges cannot be solely attributed to the lack of job opportunities. As per JNTUH College of Engineering Hyderabad, placements were good during the academic year 2019-2020 in all the branches of Engineering. A total of 64 companies participated in the recruitment process. A total 94.65% and 93.10% BTech students got campus placements in 2018-19 and 2017-18, respectively.
Industry growth not in proportion
On the other hand, Kesab Bhattacharya, professor, Department of Electrical Engineering, Jadavpur University, blames indiscriminate increase in the number of colleges throughout the country for the alarming situation.
“The development of industries is not proportionate to the increase in the number of colleges offering BTech, BE courses. The industry growth is mostly limited to IT sector. Hence job opportunities in this field are more as compared to core sectors,” says Bhattacharya. He adds that poor infrastructure and low package have added insult to the injury, leading to less takers for Engineering courses in the state.
For the academic session 2020-21, Jadavpur University also had to conduct more than three rounds of counselling to fill its over 1,200 seats offered by 16 departments. Jadavpur University offers admission to Engineering courses based on students’ performance in the West Bengal Joint Entrance Examination (WBJEE).
Bhattacharya also believes that exorbitant fees being charged by various colleges is another reason for the low turn-out for Engineering programmes.