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Time for remedial measures to correct skewed spread of engineering education

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Times of India Blog |  March 17, 2017 | Pyaralal Raghavan in Minority View | TOI  | Opinion |

Growth of engineering education in the country seems to have hit a ceiling with the number of students, including both capacity and enrolment, falling in recent years. This is despite the fact that the number of engineering colleges continues to steadily increase going up from 6,220 in 2013-14 to 6,446 in 2016-17 indicating that many of the older institutions are facing a large shortage of students.  This is borne out by the numbers which shows that the total number of engineering seats sanctioned peaked in 2014-15 at 31.79 lakh and has now fallen to 29.96 lakh in 2016-17, a fall of 5.8%. However the highest fall has been in the total enrolment rates which have come down from 17.82 lakh in 2013-14 to 15.96 lakh in 2015-16, a fall of more than 10 percent. Consequently, the share of vacant seats now is almost half with the vacancy levels going up from 39.6% in 2013-14 to 48.4% in 2015-16.  But what makes the scenario complicated is the skewed distribution of engineering college seats in the country. More than half the engineering colleges and seats are concentrated in five states. Tamil Nadu leads the state rankings with 1025 colleges and 5.26 lakh seats followed by Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, with 790,636, 485 and 377 colleges and 3.43 lakh, 2.91 lakh, 2.84 lakh and 2.31 lakh seats respectively. These five states now account for around 51.2% and 56% of the engineering colleges and seats in the country.

However, even these numbers fail to capture the true extent of disparity in engineering education in the country. This is brought out by the sharp differences in the share of engineering college seats and population in the respective states. By this yardstick the share of engineering college seats exceed their share of population is more than half a dozen states.  These would include states like Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Punjab and Haryana. While Tamil Nadu had 6.1% of the population and 17.6% of the engineering college seats, Maharashtra had 9.4% and 11.5% respectively. The respective numbers of the other states were Andhra Pradesh 7.4% and 9.5%, Karnataka 5.1% and 7.1%, Punjab 2.4% and 3.7% and Haryana 2.1% and 4.2%.  What is striking is the sharp disparity between the share of population and engineering college seats in some of the larger states. For instance, while Uttar Pradesh has 16.2% of the population it accounted for only 9.7% of the engineering college seats. Similarly West Bengal which has 7.8% of the population had only 3.2% of the seats. The worst case was that of Bihar which had 8.1% of the population but less than one percent of the engineering seats. Other states where the engineering college seats were disproportionately lower than the population included Madhya Pradesh 5.9% and 4.9%, Rajasthan 5.5% and 4.9%, Jharkhand 2.6% and 0.6%, Assam 2.6% and 0.3%, Chhattisgarh 2.1% and 1.2%, Delhi 1.4% and 0.6% and Jammu & Kashmir 1% and 0.3%. However, in states like Gujarat and Orissa the share of engineering college seats were lower than the share of population but only marginally. In Kerala the share of population and engineering college seats were almost at par.  All these certainly indicate that it is time for corrective measures to ensure faster spread of engineering education in the laggard states, especially the large poor states, as it will ensure greater access to the less privileged and ensure greater availability of skilled personal need to boost overall growth. –  Courtesy


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