In what could be an indicator of declining interest in technical courses like engineering and management, the All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE) has decided to close as many as 511 courses from this academic session (2016-17).

The country’s technical education regulator has also closed as many as 106 colleges for 2016-17. Most of the courses that have been closed are of engineering, followed by management and pharmacy and will lead to a reduction in seat capacity by about one lakh.

The massive slash, sources said, is mainly because of the fact that the number of seats in technical institutions, mostly private, has outnumbered students. Besides, there are many courses that are not popular and therefore seats remain vacant and thus institutes find it tough to continue with them. In fact, AICTE has been trying to cut the total number of undergraduate engineering seats by as much as 40% over the next few years by facilitating the closure of some schools and reducing students’ intake in some others. The move, sources said, will address the issue of declining quality of education in the engineering sector. Academics feel that reducing the intake will be beneficial for all — students, education providers and employers. There have been complaints from companies about the poor quality of graduates in institutes, other than the top “creamy” ones like IITs or BITS Pilani. Engineering colleges are also suffering from a severe shortage of faculty members and proper infrastructure.

At present, there are about 16 lakh engineering seats all over the country, but the AICTE wants to bring it down to 10-11 lakh, as about 6 lakh seats remain vacant, on an average, every year.

Dr Ranjit Singh, an executive committee member of the Indian Society for Technical Education (ISTE) and former Director of Netaji Subhash Chandra Institute of Technology, Delhi, said: “This trend (of declining interest in engineering courses) is due to a big gap between industry requirements and the kind of knowledge/skill imparted to engineering students. The industry wants ready engineers which the institutes are not able to provide. Students of these courses do not get jobs and therefore are reluctant to join these institutes. As a result, seats remain vacant.”

According to an engineer working in a PSU, students want to take up a course which can give him a job. “Since passing out from ‘non-creamy’ institutes do not get him a job, he/she looks for something else. In this situation, seats in the institutes remain vacant. The institutes, most of them private, do not spend much on the quality of teaching. Ultimately, they close down the institute so that the building could be used for some other work. So it’s a vicious circle. Efforts should be made to make the courses more industry-oriented so that quality engineers could be produced,” he said.

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