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Common Entrance Test for Engineering colleges hits a roadblock

Prakash Kumar | NEW DELHI | Deccan Herald | April 28 2017  | Opinion |

However, the Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry has put the plan on hold for evolving a consensus among the States.

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The Centre’s plan to hold a common entrance test to engineering colleges seems to have hit a roadblock. The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), clearing the Centre’s proposal, had last month formulated a regulation for holding a nationwide test for entrance to all engineering colleges from 2018.  However, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) has put the plan on hold for evolving a consensus among the states.  “The common entrance test plan has been put on hold for now as its successful implementation would require a consensus among the states,” an AICTE official told DH.

A consensus is required to bring in clear provisions for common counselling. “This is necessary to ensure that engineering colleges offer seats only on the basis of all India merit list of the candidates,” the official said.  The ministry initiated the move to hold a common test for entrance to engineering colleges, taking a cue from the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) for medical and dental colleges introduced last year.  TheCBSE conducted NEET following a Supreme Court order. “Under NEET, there is no clear provision for medical colleges to offer seats on the basis of all India merit list. This leaves scope for the colleges to continue with their past practice of admitting students on the basis of their capacity to pay for the seat,” the AICTE official said.  The ministry does not want to roll out its plan for holding a common entrance with “such a loophole”. “It wants to start holding a common entrance test with a clear provision which makes it compulsory for all engineering colleges to offer seats to candidates as per their rank in the all India merit list.  Otherwise, the purpose of holding such a test will remain unfulfilled. This is possible only when the states come on board. We are holding a consultation with the states,” the official said. – Courtesy

Internshala and AICTE tie-up as the latter makes internships mandatory for students

Plunge Daily | By  Craig Cranenburgh

Internshala and AICTE (All India Council for Technical Education) signed an MoU facilitating internships for all students enrolled in AICTE-approved academic institutions. Basis the agreement, all colleges affiliated under AICTE, the regulatory body under the HRD Ministry can now offer students internships through Internshala for free. AICTE Chairman, Dr. Anil D Sahasrabudhe, said, “We have made internships mandatory for students so that they can be equipped with skills before they take up jobs.”  As per the statement released, the platform will provide counseling and guidance in addition to helping students find the right internships. The move is expected help students in getting exposure to work environments and hone their skills in multiple areas including managerial, technical and communication.  Sarvesh Agrawal, the founder and CEO of Internshala said, “The Government of India has identified Skill Building as a top national priority and it is heartening to see AICTE take concrete steps to improve the employability of our graduates.”

Internshala believes that through internships, students get top apply whatever they learn in classrooms. They are looking to provide “meaningful” internships to the college students giving them a great launchpad to their careers.  “We are hoping that, through our partnership with Internshala, colleges and students get easier access to more and meaningful internships,” added Dr. Sahasrabudhe.  In 2016-17, Internshala claims to have listed 400,000+ internships (across different streams) with an average stipend of Rs. 7,500/- per month. Of this, 40% of the internships also came with the option to convert it into full time employment upon completion. – Courtesy   /   Click here to  Visit  https://internshala.com          /   Click here for Engineering Internships

VTU says eight ‘niche’ courses are equal to traditional engineering degrees

Economic Times |Bharath Joshi |  , ET Bureau |  Apr 26, 2017  |

BENGALURU: With some niche engineering courses facing an identify crisis, the Visvesvaraya Technological University (VTU) is considering certifying them as equivalent to a degree in traditional courses. The move is expected to help graduates who have passed out of niche courses but are shunned by the industry during recruitment. Students with these niche degrees -information science, for instance -find it difficult to get a job. The university will now certify it as equivalent to computer science, with which it shares similar syllabus. “Students faced an identity problem with some of the courses. The industry wanted to know the equivalence of some specific courses,“ VTU Registrar HN Jagannath Reddy said. The university often faced queries from recruitment bodies such as the Karnataka Public Service Commission who sought clarity on the relevance of these degrees, he said.  The VTU had introduced eight niche streams –automobile engineering, industrial production, tool engineering, transportation engineering, construction technology and management engineering, information science engineering, electronics and instrumentation engineering. Besides these, traditional streams such as mechanical, civil, computer science, information technology and electronics and communications are also on offer.

Experts point out that colleges carve out new courses from existing ones if only to increase admission numbers. The information science and engineering course is a classic example. “The syllabus for this course is 95% similar to computer science and engineering,“ BMS College of Engineering principal Mallikharjuna Babu K said, hailing the university’s move. A dozen colleges in Karnataka closed down this course since 2015. According to CMR Institute of Technology (CMRIT) principal Sanjay Chitnis, this is in line with the trend of closing down or mapping courses with existing ones.“There is over-specialisation at the undergraduate level, which is supposed to focus on the basics,“ he said. Chitnis cited the example of electronics and communications engineering and telecommunication engineering courses offered by CMRIT like many other colleges.“They are 90% similar but recruiters specifically ask for electronics and communications graduates.“  H Karan Kumar, head of IT consulting and management group Shruth & Smith Holdings, agreed.“Traditional degrees are better understood by universities overseas and many corporates in their talent acquisition process,“ he said .  Courtesy

AICTE, Stanford hold online test to judge engineering education

The Times of India | Ramendra Singh | TNN | Apr 27, 2017 |

Students of IES College giving test for online survey conducted by AICTE and Stanford University

Students of IES College giving test for online survey conducted by AICTE and Stanford University

BHOPAL: A private college from Bhopal, IES Institute of Technology and Management was selected for an online test organized jointly by All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE) in association with Stanford University. The test, is a part of national survey to assess quality of education in technical colleges.  The test sought students’ response on their basic understanding of core branches and quality of studies being imparted in their colleges.  Survey is the result of feedback about poor standards of engineering education in the country which produces lakhs of engineering graduates every year. Almost 50% of them fail to get a job, a survey said.  Depending on the results, AICTE will decide where and how to intervene to improve education standards. The online test comprises technical skills in physics, mathematics, informatics, critical thinking, creativity and quantitative literacy skills.  Sources said other colleges from state are being also involved to conduct such tests. PRO, IES College, Nitin Chaurasiya said the test in their college is being conducted from April 17 to April 30.

“It is a part of international study to understand and improve quality of technical education received by youth in large economies like China, Russia, Korea, Japan and India,” said Chaurasiya. Students, who appeared in the test said focus was to know as what kind of studies are being provided in the college. “There were two pages wherein 35 questions each were asked. Questions were to judge the basic knowledge about physics and mathematics. Besides, there were other 36 pages wherein questions were asked about the college facilities and competence of teaching faculty,” said first year student of computer science branch, Slesha Nidhi. Another student who had appeared in the test, Shubhankar Tiwari of final year electronics branch said, “It was choice-based test. Even in few questions students were asked to grade the college regarding engineering studies.” – Courtesy

Memorandum of Understanding between AICTE and Clarivate Analytics to Drive Research Excellence in AICTE approved Academic Institutions

Memorandum of Understanding between AICTE and Clarivate Analytics to Drive Research Excellence in AICTE approved Academic Institutions

Click here to View / Download  :      www.aicte-india.org/downloads/mou_signed_aicte_clarivate_25_4_17.pdf

How self-financing colleges lost the course – Crisis in Engineering Education: Tamil Nadu

The Hindu Business Line | Chennai, April 26 |  R BALAJI  |   SWATHIMOORTHY  |  Opinion |

There is a mismatch in what the industry demands and the talent that is on offer

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No student has been admitted to 23 private colleges, including two teaching architecture, this year. Just 14 colleges have filled their entire allocation of sanctioned seats. In between are 50 colleges that have not been able to fill even 10 per cent of their sanctioned seats, and over 250 colleges have less than half the number of students they are allowed to handle.  At least 20 colleges in Tamil Nadu have opted to close and are part of 250 country wide, according to reports.  Many of these self-financed colleges are simply not financially viable. Many that are pulling on do not have the wherewithal to offer quality education. For instance, engineering colleges lack sufficient infrastructure such as well-equipped labs to keep up with the changing trends. Due to this gap, they lose out to the ones that are financially stable. It is one of the main reasons why deemed universities are doing well, says V Balu*, an engineering college faculty in Tirunelveli. An administrator from a college in Kanyakumari, says. “Our admissions have come down by half. But the founder has different business interests because of which we are able to run the college,”These colleges are backed by politicians, businessmen (mostly in real estate) and religions institutions with deep pockets.

Capitation fees

One good news is that the exorbitant capitation fees are no longer the norm. According to an engineering college faculty, around five years ago, the capitation fee for reserving seats in engineering colleges ran to lakhs of rupees — over ₹6 lakh for Mechanical and Civil Engineering and ₹1 lakh for Information Technology. Now things have changed for better, at least in majority of the colleges. It makes sense, considering how colleges are struggling to fill their seats every year. The focus is now on attracting more students for the fixed fee set by the University.  Balu said the starting salary for teachers too have come down in the past five years as admissions decreased. “Initially, most colleges gave a salary of ₹19,000-33,000 for a fresher. But now that has come down to ₹12,000-14,000. In addition, professors are forced to bring 2-3 students each for admission or they face a pay cut of close to three months,” he said.  Sundar Ram*, a faculty in the mechanical engineering department of another college, concurs. He has been instructed to find three students for the upcoming academic year. “We try to find scholarship students from Scheduled Caste or Tribes or first-generation graduates, who are eligible to get free education,” he added. “When you cut the pay and commercialise education, quality faculty will leave the institution for a better job. The seats are then filled by mediocre staff and ones who are fresh out of college,” Ram said.

The mismatch

The issue is the mismatch in what the industry or job market demands and what is on offer. Also, the “perception of quality” of these colleges among students is a reason for applicants not choosing them, said an official speaking on condition of anonymity.  The issue is not self-financed institutions, which effectively expanded the capacity of technical education over the past three decades in the State. This had happened after the then MG Ramachandran Government in Tamil Nadu allowed establishment of private-sector colleges in 1983.  In these years, the number of government-run engineering colleges has remained at three, government-aided colleges at 10 and constituent colleges of Anna University at 17. The rest of the 584 are all self-financed. These institutions contributed to Tamil Nadu becoming a major hub for Information Technology and manufacturing by providing skilled human resource.  But times have changed. IT companies have cut down on recruitments and are also settling for less qualified applicants. They are able to train diploma holders and arts and science graduates for the same jobs that engineering graduates did and at a lower salary, the official said. Many courses have become redundant. Apart from the demand to shut down institutions, “we are flooded with applications to shut down courses,” an official said.

Market assessment

A senior official said AICTE needs to do a continuous, close analysis of the courses and the potential number of skilled persons needed by the industry annually. There are just 5-7 branches that are in demand by the students. Students see their seniors in a well-placed position and opt for the course, but by the time they graduate the marketplace changes.  “We need a better assessment of the job market and assist students at the school level when they choose courses,” the official said.  Students are not given the market data to make an informed choice. Typically, the best and the brightest, as decided by the exam marks-based system, opt to study medicine; the next rung chooses engineering followed by commerce, and the rest take a range of college courses. Also, the quality of education in schools needs to be addressed in Tamil Nadu, said an educationist. We follow a purely marks-based system and the quality of the syllabus does not match the CBSE’s. The marks scored in the Plus-Two public examinations are the primary criteria for admission into engineering colleges through a single-window counselling system.

NEET solution

This is also why the State government is against a national-level, common entrance exam for engineering colleges, the National Eligibility and Entrance Test, proposed by the Centre, according to educationists.  Students following the Tamil Nadu school syllabus may lose out in a common entrance exam. Self-financed institutions are also concerned about accountability to a central authority if admissions are overseen through a common entrance exam.  But experts believe that shifting to a common entrance test is inevitable for engineering college aspirants just as it has happened for medical colleges.  –   (* Names changed)  –  Courtesy

Crisis in Engineering Education: Time to re-think approach to education

The Hindu Business Line |  Chennai, April 26 |  Swathi Moorthy | Opinion |

Outdated curriculum, lack of soft skills, and automation pose major challenges to students

CHENNAI, 16/04/2011: Aspirants writing the VIT Engineering Entrance Examination at the University’s Chennai campus on Vandalur – Kelambakkam Road on April 16, 2011. Photo: A. Muralitharan

Skill gap

According to a study by Aspiring Minds Research Cell, Tamil Nadu lags in average quality of talent. The study was based on an employability test, AMCAT, taken by 1.2 lakh engineers across India for IT services and related jobs. It stated that though Tamil Nadu is considered an engineering hub, the State’s engineering students’ employability is only 8.33 per cent.  A senior professor in a well-known engineering college in Chennai says: “That is at the core of all the problems the engineering discipline is facing now. Engineering calls for lateral thinking, for students to apply what they have learnt; that is not happening.” When a school student is suddenly faced with a system that is different from what she is habituated to, it is tough to cope. “Curriculum should be changed in such a way that it trains students, right from class VI-XII, to think out of the box and apply what they have learnt,” the professor added.

N Saravanan, an assistant professor from a government engineering college in Kanyakumari, says: “Another issue is the attitude towards knowledge-oriented education. Colleges focus on coaching students just like schools, to get 100 per cent pass percentage. That is what most parents too demand.” Unlike Chennai, where some colleges are taking the initiative to look beyond syllabus, most colleges are text-book focussed and students lack communication skills.  K Thyagarajan, Principal, Ponjesly College of Engineering, Kanyakumari district, said: “Most of our students come from villages in Tirunelveli, Kanyakumari and some parts of Kerala, and lack soft skills. This is a major challenge when it comes to placements as companies prefer students with good communication skills.” The college has started providing spoken English classes right from the first year. “We are getting good feedback from companies that come for recruitment,” he added.  To enhance technical skills, Anna University is introducing choice-based credit system, where the curriculum is designed based on industry requirements. This allows students to choose inter-disciplinary courses, which is not an option right now. For example, a mechanical student can choose an electrical or a computer science course. Electives too are changing. A faculty from the Centre for University Industry Collaboration, Anna University, says: “We keep changing electives every year based on the current trend, to be in line with industry needs. Now the classrooms are IT-enabled and staff are trained by industry people. This is to make students employment-ready.”

Placement hurdles

But that alone is not enough to ensure 100 per cent placement, as the trend is moving towards product development and automation, from pure services. IT services companies have traditionally been mass recruiters. But in the past few years, fresher recruitment is shrinking across Tamil Nadu as these firms too are looking for niche skills.  According to technical institutions, IT companies are recruiting less people now as they shift increasingly to automation. Companies are looking for niche skills for core product development, and according to JP Jayaprakash Gandhi, a career consultant and analyst, they find students lacking in this area.  For colleges, placement is an important factor as it is directly proportional to the student intake and their reputation.  According to a placement cell staff from Ponjesly, recruitments have not been good this year as only IT services companies are come for campus placements. The college claims to have so far managed to place 70 per cent of its final-year students with salary ranging ₹10,000-50,000.  “Students pay several lakhs of rupees to earn a degree, so they find the salary inadequate, Gandhi says “This is the issue the State is facing right now. We are overproducing engineers who do not have the right skills needed for the industry.” A senior professor from Anna University feels students, right from the beginning, aspire to work in a comfortable environment and are not willing to go to the shop floor. This is causing industries that have huge potential such as textile and leather, to lose out on good talent. “We have about 90 students passing out of textile engineering every year. Since most of the jobs are in rural area, they shift to IT or drop out in the middle of the course. –  Courtesy

MIT Pune to start railway engineering college in Solapur

The Indian Express | Express News Service | Pune | April 23, 2017 |

Stating that though Indian Railways is one of the largest rail networks, railway engineering is stressed and taken seriously worldwide except India, said MIT officials, adding that in China, more than 80 courses are offered related to railway engineering.

Coming as a good news for students who have an interest in working with the engineering department of the Indian Railways, the MAEER’s MIT Group of Institutions, Pune is set to open up a railway engineering college at Barshi, Solapur. The institute claims the college would be one-of-its-kind in India.  The institute, which will start from June-July this academic year, has got the approval from the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), said MIT officials. Degree courses will be offered at the college whose syllabus include topics like railway system planning, railway infrastructure, railway operations, and so on. Besides the syllabus will include civil engineering, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, electronics and telecommunications engineering, computer engineering, industrial and production engineering and Railway Systems Engineering.

Stating that though Indian Railways is one of the largest rail networks, railway engineering is stressed and taken seriously worldwide except India, said MIT officials, adding that in China, more than 80 courses are offered related to railway engineering. “To ensure introduction of high velocity engines, safety of railway passengers and minimum delay in journeys, modernisation of railway technology and engineering is a must. In that direction, railway systems engineering needs massive development and that can only be possible with highly qualified and skilled railway engineers,” said Dr Vishwanath D Karad, founder president, MAEER’s MIT, Pune. –  Courtesy

275 engineering colleges have applied for closure, AICTE chairman says

The Times of India | Adarsh Jain | TNN |  Apr 22, 2017  |

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COIMBATORE: A total of 275 engineering colleges across the country applied for closure this year, said chairman of All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) Anil D Sahasrabuddhe on Friday.  The maximum number of institutions that have applied for closure are from Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. “The number of institutions are almost equal from all states. Tamil Nadu and Andhra alone have more,” Sahasrabuddhe said here.  In the past two years, the AICTE has been actively working on reducing the quantity of engineering institutions across the country. The regulatory body has also reduced the penalty for closing down an engineering institution that was a deterrent for many colleges which were willing to shut in the midst of poor demand. Sahasrabuddhe was in Coimbatore to inaugurate a teacher training programme on e-learning at Sri Krishna College of Engineering and Technology.  An initiative of the AICTE under the Union ministry of human resource and development, the teacher training programme is a pan-India exercise. “A total of eight programmes are being conducted where we are training faculty members from selected institutions on e-learning. And, these faculty members will train their colleagues at their respective institutions,” said AICTE director Mandeep Singh Manna.

 The teacher training programme will aim at equipping faculties of engineering institutions on using digital platforms like Study Webs of Active-Learning for Young Aspiring Minds (SWAYAM) for higher education. “There are about 280 subjects in SWAYAM so far, and about 350 subjects are ready to be introduced. We are looking at having 2000 subjects in the next two years,” said the chairman of AICTE.  The Union ministry of human resource and development has passed a regulation to introduce choice-based credit system where the student is allowed to choose courses of his choice from SWAYAM and earn credits for it.  Faculty from institutions across the country are working or preparing the modules for each subject. “Interested faculty has to first send a three-minute video to us about the module which will be scrutinised by an expert committee. Thereafter, we will decide if the faculty can be allowed to prepare the module for that particular subject,” said Sahasrabuddhe.  Asked if the faculty would get credits during his appraisal for preparing a module for SWAYAM, Sahasrabuddhe said, “We will introduce it in the appraisal system soon. Anybody who has taken efforts to prepare a module should be rewarded for it.”   –  Courtesy

Stroke of luck turns Pune engineering student Shraddha Mengshette into a crorepati

The Times of India | Kardhra Nair | TNN |  Apr 21, 2017  |  Stroke of luck turns Pune engineering student into a crorepati  |

Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi feliciated 20 year-old Shradha Mengshette

Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi feliciated 20 year-old Shradha Mengshette

PUNE: In January, when Shraddha Mengshette was browsing the Internet for smartphones, she was acutely aware that her father wasn’t keen on the purchase. Even so, she bought the device on a monthly EMI of Rs1,590. A few days later, the same transaction brought a windfall of Rs1 crore for the 20-year-old when she was chosen as the first prize winner of Niti Aayog’s Lucky Grahak Yojana.  On April 14, PM Narendra Modi handed the prize to Shraddha at a function held in Nagpur.  The big win has turned Shraddha into a celebrity of sorts at AISSMS College of Engineering, Pune, where she is a student, as well as at her hometown in Latur. “I have been invited to many felicitation functions. Even so, the win is yet to sink in,” she said.

For now, Shraddha’s parents, homemaker Meera and grocery store-owner Mohan, have deposited the amount in their savings account.  While the youngster may still be struck by the win, she clearly recalls how much she had to convince her parents to let her make the purchase. “I wanted to get a smartphone. The moment I told my parents, they said no but, after several conversations that see-sawed between scolding and pleading, they agreed,” Shraddha smiled.  The total cost of the smartphone was Rs7500. “It was a big amount for us and my father asked me to get another phone but I went online and bought it on EMI,” she shared.  On April 11, the Central Bank manager reached the Mengshette’s residence to inform the family about the win. “He also told us that the PM would give us the prize money. Even then, we were not told about the amount until we were in the bus to Nagpur,” Shraddha recalled.  The prize money, however, hasn’t helped Shraddha get away from her parents’ chiding. “They still think the smartphone is a nuisance and keep reminding me that I should concentrate on studying,” she said. – Courtesy