It is the admission season again and students are braving the sun and rain to get into the best colleges. However, a large number of seats in engineering colleges have been lying vacant.
There are more than 450 engineering colleges in Tamil Nadu offering around 1.75 lakh seats, but more than half of them have been vacant in the recent years.
In 2018, the number of vacant seats rose to nearly a lakh at 97,980, according to numbers from the Anna University, which manages affiliations of the engineering institutes in the state.
In a seminar titled ‘Tholainokku’ held in Chennai, Trichy, Madurai and Coimbatore recently, the Consortium of Self-Financing Professional, Arts and Science Colleges in Tamil Nadu deliberated on the issues plaguing the once-most sought after stream.
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Primarily, engineering courses have been known to be losing their sheen among students in recent years because of their inability to guarantee a decent employment.
In addition to that, there has been a rise in the number of private colleges, which is adding to the growing vacancies.
Many of the new colleges are also not well-equipped as per the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) norms, resulting in their closure soon after launch, which leaves students stranded in their courses midway and aspirants wary of joining any new institutions.
However, industry experts believe that employability of graduates would also depend on industry requirements, which usually do not match by as much as 70%. There has been no resolution to this issue.
While assuring about employment opportunities, experts asked students to choose streams according to their interests to improve their chances of being hired.
“Employment is always there, but who will give a job if a student has 5-10 arrears,” asks P Selvaraj, secretary of the consortium. He says it is the student who must take responsibility for his career.
“Earlier, companies had a lot of vacancies, but they did not get eligible candidates. So they chose engineering graduates who had a few arrears. But today, there are a large number of candidates and the companies look to hire the best. Nobody wants students with arrears,” he pointed out.
Selvaraj also accused the media of spreading false propaganda against engineering courses.
“We have well equipped faculty and facilities. It is the students who are not showing interest in choosing these courses. The salary expectations of engineering students also don’t match with what the industry provides,” he said, adding that students these days want everything easily. “They are not ready to put in the hard work required to reach a certain level.”
One of the representatives of the consortium who spoke on condition of anonymity said students need to study add on courses in order to increase their employment chances.
“We also train teachers through our consortium every now and then, so that they can teach the students better,” he said.
TJ Prabhu, a retired engineering professor and author of several technical books, said the pedagogy and the administration in engineering education should undergo a radical change for a bright future.
“The government should take stringent measures to stop private engineering colleges from turning the engineering education into a lucrative business,” he said.