Thursday, September 27, 2012

Spurt in demand for PG engineering courses

Contrary to popular perception, the engineering education segment seems to be doing well. In the past year, the number of seats in postgraduate (PG) engineering institutes has swelled 160 per cent and there is a 100 per cent year-on-year growth in the number of new PG engineering institutes.

According to data by the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), the country’s technical education regulator, as many as 888 seats were added in 2012-13, compared to 342 in the previous year.
Ten postgraduate institutes were opened in 2012-13, against five last year. The new institutes were opened in Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh, which got two new PG engineering institutes each, and Kerala, where one institute was opened.

Industry observers say the sudden expansion in PG engineering seats is to meet the spurt in the number of students applying for such courses as numerous faculty vacancies exist across engineering colleges in these states.

In Andhra Pradesh, for instance, as many as 71,045 students applied for the PG Engineering Common Entrance Examination (PGECET) this year against 36,000 students a year ago. Besides, according to a new AICTE directive, faculty at engineering should have the minimum qualification of a postgraduate degree. Until last year, these teaching posts were largely filled with B Tech graduates.

According to industry experts, the number of students opting for postgraduate studies had come down by nearly 50 per cent over the past two decades, resulting in an acute faculty shortage in a number of education institutions. In the next academic year, in Andhra Pradesh alone, more than 700 engineering colleges will have about 70,000 posts to fill.

The new-found interest in PG engineering education is also due to the fact that from next year, even private engineering colleges will offer the sixth pay commission salaries for teaching positions. This means a basic salary of Rs. 36,000 at the entry level.

On the other hand, five PG engineering colleges shut down in 2012-13, against seven in 2011-12. The seat loss due to this stood at 342 in 2012-13, compare to 576 in 2011-12.

The Flip Side
It is a different picture for management education and under-graduate engineering. In 2012-13, the number of management institutes opened were 82, compared to 146 last year — adding 7,740 seats to the pool against 14,340 seats last year.

The number of management institutes closed this year stood at 101 against 124 last year. The number of seats lost this, however, were 6,090 against 5,602 last year.

“Opening and closing of institutes has become a game. Approval of institutes has become a racket in the country and AICTE needs to go beyond its fascination for approving management and engineering institutions left, right and centre,” says the director of a Delhi-based B-school ranked among top 10 B-schools in the country.

“AICTE’s role is a holistic one. But they are, instead, playing the role of a regulator. AICTE has forgotten its job of making technical education qualitative. AICTE keeps adding seats even when the market does not need more seats. Thus, professional education in the country is suffering,” the B-school director adds.

In the under-graduate engineering segment, about 95 engineering institutes were opened this year, against 178 last year. While the number of institutes shut down this year stood at 12 against 28 last year, the number of seats lost was 2,710 this year against 9,835 last year. The number of seats added in under-graduate engineering stood at 27,060 seats against 51,900 seats in 2011-12.

Source: Business Standard, September 27, 2012
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