Thursday, June 16, 2011

Engineering, management colleges cut back on growth

There was a time when India used to add nearly 100,000 seats to its professional colleges every year. This time around, a measly 175 engineering and management colleges with about 50,000 seats will start operations across the country, signalling the slowing of this sector.

Yet, one pattern prevails: expansion is uneven. Five Indian states continue to propel the increase --- Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh. This year, Maharashtra has added 5,640 engineering seats and student intake in management colleges will be up by 1,080. Last year, the total number of seats in professional colleges rose by about 20,000 in the state.

"Across India, growth has dampened because of two reasons: Our norms are now a lot more structured and specific now. So managements wanting to start new colleges can no longer fudge their documents. Secondly, there is a perception that seats are lying vacant and entrepreneurs are a bit wary about starting new institutes," said S.S. Mantha, Chairman of the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE).

When admissions closed in 2010, close to 200,000 seats in professional technical colleges went abegging in the country. The regulatory body will allow institutes which have not fulfilled certain norms to appeal once they fill the lacunae. "So, another 300 colleges may appeal to start this year," added Mantha.

Most new engineering colleges will offer popular streams like electronics, mechanical engineering, computer engineering and civil engineering. "In Maharashtra, most of the growth is concentrated in Pune. But we feel that the number of seats should go up a bit during the appeal phase. We will declare the total number of seats once all the colleges receive a letter of approval," said S.K. Mahajan, Director of the state's Directorate of Technical Education.

Of the 27 new colleges, 12 colleges will offer management and two new colleges will start in Mumbai. For years, several academicians have worried about a fundamental disconnect between quality and expansion in India's professional education. "Can the country boast of 100 engineering colleges that impart cutting edge education?" asked a principal of an engineering college based in Pune.

But the AICTE has for long felt that meeting the massive demand for professional education is imperative. Twenty years ago, merely one per cent of aspiring engineers got a seat, while now nearly 80% manage to find places, noted AICTE officials. But it is time, said educationists that an ever-increasing intake capacity must stop masquerading as an asset in the educational sector.

Source: The Economic Times (Online Edition), June 16, 2011

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