Once seen as the Mecca of engineering education, Hyderabad has lost its sheen now as thousands of engineering seats in private colleges remain vacant even after the completion of counselling process for admissions to undergraduate engineering courses across Telangana.
There were no takers for as many as 16,136 seats in 169 private engineering colleges in the state in the current academic year. Out of a total of 65,544 seats available across several engineering streams, only 49,408 seats have been filled.
Only 44 colleges—32 private and 12 government—could fill all the available seats while three private colleges have zero admissions.
Nearly half of the seats available in the mechanical engineering stream remain vacant, followed by electrical and electronics (45 per cent), civil engineering (42 per cent) and industrial production (41 per cent).
The case of B Pharm courses is much worse as there were no takers for 97 percent of the undergraduate seats in pharmacy colleges. Out of 112 private pharmacy colleges offering 3,200 seats, a meagre 61 seats were filled. In the three government pharmacy colleges, out of 80 seats, only 26 seats were filled.
The decline in demand for local engineering colleges started after the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh in 2014 as many students have been preferring to migrate to neighbouring Tamil Nadu and Karnataka to pursue an engineering degree, from then on.
Besides, indiscriminate sanction of colleges in private sector, poor infrastructure, faculty and laboratories and other facilities and falling standards in the new colleges are among the factors that have contributed to the declining demand. Adding to this was the Government’s flip-flop over the fee reimbursement policy.
Nearly 50 percent of the students who qualified in the Telangana State EAMCET (Engineering, Agriculture, Medical Common Entrance Test) did not even bother to apply for counselling to get an engineering seat. While a total of 93,943 students qualified in the entrance examination, only 52,268 applied for admissions.
Not long ago, the combined Andhra Pradesh was widely hailed as an educational hub in the country. A string of private professional colleges dotting Hyderabad and other cities were the hot destinations for students seeking a wide array of undergraduate courses covering engineering, medicine, pharmacy and computer sciences.
However, post-bifurcation, both the states—Telangana and Andhra Pradesh—are caught in a paradox. A problem of plenty is staring at professional colleges which had mushroomed in the combined state.
Over the last four to five years, several colleges have shut down due to lack of patronage while some others could not meet the standards set by the All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE).
“Many colleges have sought closure from the university this year. There are also few colleges which had the AICTE approval but were denied approval by us due to lapses identified by the inspection teams during physical verification,” the vice-chancellor of Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University (Hyderabad) Venugopal Reddy said.
Only 156 engineering institutions in Telangana have secured affiliation of the JNTUH, this year as against 183 last year.
According to authorities, 14 engineering colleges did not receive affiliation from the university this year while 13 private engineering colleges sought no objection certificate for closure of their institution.
Not just engineering, even seats in pharmacy and other courses under the university have been reduced by the varsity administration. The university officials said that colleges which failed to maintain required infrastructure and faculty faced reduction in the intake and some were not granted affiliation.
Last year, due to reduced demand and lack of admissions, managements of 44 private engineering, pharmacy and business management colleges had approached the varsity for closure of about 100 undergraduate and post graduate courses.
This year, 91,207 engineering seats were granted affiliation in 183 colleges affiliated to Osmania University, JNTUH, and Kakatiya University. Of them, 64,709 seats, accounting for 70 percent, are required to be filled through web counselling by the government convenor. The remaining seats are meant to be filled under the management quota by the respective college managements.
According to the statistics provided by the Telangana State Council of Higher Education (TSCHE), the number of students joining the engineering courses under the convenor quota (also called category ‘A’) through EAMCET has taken a downward curve for the last three years.
In the academic year 2016-17, only 54,149 students joined under category ‘A’ and this number slipped to 50,258 in 2017-18 and it further came down to 48,648 in 2018-19. In the last academic year, after the completion of all rounds of web counselling and admissions under the management quota, 28,223 engineering seats remained vacant out of the 96,519 slots spread over 203 engineering colleges.
The professional colleges in the state are bogged down by acute shortage of faculty. According to AICTE, the shortage was 23 per cent in the academic year 2015-16 and 27 percent in 2016-17.
“Since the government has not cleared the fee reimbursement dues in the last few years, we are facing fund shortage, thereby affecting the teachers’ salaries,” said a representative of a private engineering college in the city.
At the root of the problem is the mushrooming of low-quality engineering colleges over the years. As students from such colleges fail to get suitable jobs, they face decline in enrolment. Therefore, a large number of these colleges are being shut down.
The AICTE wants to close down about 800 engineering colleges across India.
From the current academic year, engineering education has become costlier with 15-20 per cent fee hike being approved by the Telangana Admission and Fee Regulation Committee (TAFRC).
The issue of enhancement of fee had triggered a controversy after 81 private engineering colleges moved the Supreme Court, seeking permission to increase the fee even before the finalisation of fee structure by the TAFRC.