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As engineering colleges down shutters, is a dream ending?

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25,000 seats are lying vacant in Karnataka state, and the situation is no different elsewhere

A decades-old trend among students to make a beeline for engineering colleges to graduate from is on the wane. That is what statistics of student intake and its consequences on the economics of engineering colleges in the state reveal. In fact, at least seven such colleges have shut down in the recent past and more could follow suit, according to sources in the collegiate public state university of Karnataka, the Visvesvaraya Technological University. Speaking to Bangalore Mirror of the change in students’ choice and its consequences, a VTU official predicted that of the 205 engineering colleges in the state only 150 could sustain the decline in their demand in the next few years. “It will not be surprising if as many as 50 colleges shut down due to reduced student strength,” the official said.

Going a step ahead, Karnataka Unaided Private Engineering Colleges Association (KUPECA) secretary MK Panduranga Setty said, “If things go the way they are, apart from 25 colleges, all others will shut shop.” So, why are engineering colleges doomed? Analysts say the result is because of a combination of issues plaguing engineering colleges. “For an engineering college to break even, it needs to have an intake of at least 300 students. There are too many colleges resulting in the intake not even crossing 100 in many colleges. One college had to make do with an intake of just six students,” said Setty. “The pay structure is also very high. We need to cough up at least `1 lakh to hire a faculty with PhD. Now, with the seventh pay commission in the offing, salaries may go through the roof. Around 25,000 seats are lying vacant in Karnataka. The accreditation process being made mandatory is only adding to our woes.  “Recurring expenditure and enhanced HR is worsening matters. For example, in RV College of Engineering alone, the cost per student is `3.8 lakh. Quite a few colleges are coming up for sale, which industrialists are eyeing to be able to utilise for their land and structural value. The future certainly looks bleak,” he added.

The opinion of former VTU vice-chancellor K Balaveera Reddy is no different. “Earlier, we used to have a single CET with a provision for non-Karnataka students. With the present multiple entrance tests and increase in number of colleges in neighbouring states, the number of non-Karnataka students here has hit the intake and finances of our colleges,” he said. The bleak scenario is not limited to Karnataka alone, as the same is the case with the neighbouring states. Around 30 engineering colleges in Tamil Nadu and 50 in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana face closure. Sources say, the poor job market and lower demand for IT courses is another reason for the poor outlook for engineering colleges. On the other hand, the recent trend among students to opt for BCom is not doing engineering colleges any favour. However, Reddy sees a ray of hope as he says, “If we can bring back the single CET system and intake non-Karnataka students in large numbers, our colleges can be revived.”-  Courtesy

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