Monday, June 27, 2005

Just how good is it?

The question refers to engineering education. The Hindu has the answer. Among other things, it cites these numbers, which are truly mind-boggling.

The increase in intake capacity in engineering degree of some of the States from 1990-91 to 2003-04: Andhra Pradesh 8,070 to 66,205; Karnataka 19,452 to 40,920; Kerala 4,512 to 19,868; Madhya Pradesh 2,265 to 15,920; Maharashtra 20,425 to 47,450; Tamil Nadu 12,855 to 79,302; Uttar Pradesh 3,029 to 24,773; West Bengal 2,022 to 13,269; Delhi 1,290 to 3,800; Gujarat 2,780 to 10,325; Haryana 1,085 to 10,105; Jammu and Kashmir 480 to 970; Orissa 1,325 to 10,695; Punjab 1,508 to 10,701; and Rajasthan 1,629 to 10,785.

The total intake in all the States put together went up from 87,221 to 3,83,912

The article goes on to identify several problems that arise due to such a large number of institutions. Finding good teachers, for example. The situation is so dire that there are institutions where graduating students are recruited to teach their juniors! Many colleges' websites do not even bother to list their faculty members' names or qualifications and other credentials (for example, this deemed university; I checked three departments at random, and none of them had a faculty listing).

AICTE, which was "established for proper planning & co-ordinated development of technical education system throughout the country", has National Board of Accreditation meant for certifying that insitutions meet certain minimum standards. If we go by the Hindu article, we are better off with regulations suggested by Satya. These regulations would mandate that institutes (a) disclose to the public all relevant information, and (b) get themselves rated by independent bodies such as CRISIL. We have noted earlier that Pankaj Jalote, professor of computer science at IIT-Kanpur, has also written about the need for such reforms.


  1. Vishnu said...

    This is nothing but the present day trend about Engineering. I was also influenced by this, and landed up doing Engineering. Thought that there is a natural order among different disciplines while filling up the choice-sheet, and landed up in Mechanical Engineering. Many people realise this later, and either give up, or try to find different interests.

    When I was in school, I noticed that parents would do almost anything to get their children into engineering or medicine.

    One of my friends told me that there's an engineering college somewhere in UP, which has four rooms, and awards BE degrees in more than four disciplines. I'm sure there will be many more colleges like that.

    I can't see how someone just out of B.Tech/BE can teach their juniors. This is just stupid. The universities should reveal all information, and of course, rules (if any) should be enforced.

  2. Abi said...

    Vishnu, the increase in the number of engineering colleges is a direct result of students' aspirations and, as you rightly pointed out, it is mainly the parents' aspirations! I don't see anything wrong with that, however.

    It is also clear that the numbers are stabilizing -- or, at least the growth is tapering off; after all, there are many engineering colleges in Tamil Nadu, where many seats -- even in the government quota -- go unfilled. We are probably going to see some shake out and consolidation in the coming years, at least in those states where there is a saturation or glut. I would be happy to see if this process also leads to an improvement in the quality of education the students get there.

    Of course, I would be even happier to see some of these institutions blossom into 'real' universities.

    See this report which gives some data on the growth the number of universities and deemed universities during the Ninth and Tenth Plan periods. It also reports on a trial balloon floated by someone in the government about reducing the subsidy on higher education by raising fees. We will have to see how effective this move is going to be.

    Finally, here is an example of another deemed university that, to its credit, does have a faculty list (this example is for the department of computer science and engineering); just look at the number of people who just have a bachelors degree.