There has been a considerable dip, more than one lakh, in the number of students appearing for the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) to secure admission into the prestigious Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) in the last four years.

Though there has been a reduction in the number of students appearing for the JEE Main (screening test), the number of students shortlisted for JEE Advanced has been increasing. The trend is being attributed to the overall declining craze for engineering courses.

As per the figures of the Human Resources Development Ministry, the number of candidates appearing in JEE (Main) was 1,290,028 in 2014, which came down to 1,234,760 in 2015 and 1,207,058 in 2016. Last year in 2017, this figure came down further to 1,186,454, registering a decline of over 1 lakh compared to 2014. However, the number of shortlisted students for JEE Advanced was 119,575 in 2014 and 147,678 in 2016.

The JEE (Main) is the qualifying examination for admissions to IITs. Of the total number of students, the top 1.5 lakh are eligible to appear for JEE Advanced for admissions to the IITs.

At present, 10,998 seats are available in 23 IITs all over the country. Last year, more than 100 seats remained vacant after seven rounds of counselling. The ministry, said a source, has asked the IITs to scrap “unpopular” courses and add some more seats to the popular courses. Last year, around 400 seats were added to the IITs. However, the seats were primarily increased in the new IITs with new campuses. Older and most sought after IITs like the ones in Delhi, Bombay, Chennai and Kharagpur did not witness any changes in the seats.

Commenting on the current trend, Prof Sachin R. Jambhale, member of the executive council of Indian Society for Technical Education (ISTE), said: “This is happening because there are no good placements after doing engineering courses. There was a time when medical and engineering were the two major attractive career options. Now many bright students are opting for other streams like web designing, software, animation, law etc. Therefore, there is not much demand for the engineering sector.”

Jambhale, who is the head of the mechanical department in Noida-based Mahatma Gandhi Mission’s College of Engineering & Technology, said, “There is a need to make the courses more practical, job-oriented. Such efforts have started. For example, the AICTE is in the process of developing the overall curriculum of engineering.”

Dr Anil Kumar, deputy director general of Institution of Engineers (India), said, there has been a mushrooming growth of engineering colleges in the last few years, but compared to that, the demand has not increased. “A large number of engineering graduates are not fully employable by the industry. As a result, the placement is poor. That is the primary reason for the decline in the number of students opting for engineering courses,” he said.

Not only IITs, private engineering colleges also are witnessing a declining trend. As per information provided by the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), out of the approved total intake of about 37 lakh, only 10 lakh students are being enrolled for different engineering courses, thus reporting a massive vacancy of around 27 lakh.

In fact, the source said, the AICTE is planning to close down the technical colleges that have, over the past five years, not managed to fill more than 30% of the total available seats.

Accordingly, 800 engineering colleges are likely to be closed down.


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