The last few decades have witnessed a large growth in engineering and technical institutions in India. We have about 3,400 engineering colleges with an intake capacity of about 14.7 lakh. This excludes the existing IITs, NITs and IIITs. The government in its first Budget has proposed the setting up of five more IITs. This quantitative growth is welcome. However, there are areas of concern that need to be addressed if this growth has to complement quality engineering education in the country.
It is reported that many of the recently established private engineering institutions are closing down due to a wide gap between demand and supply. In Madhya Pradesh alone, in the academic session 2013-14, around 30,000 out of 96,000 seats available remained vacant. The same is the case in many other states. Does this mean that engineering education in India has reached a saturation level? If that had been the case, more than 1.86 lakh students would not have competed for about 2,000 seats in BITS Pilani this year or about 13.6 lakh students would not have applied for JEE Mains, apart from the state-level examinations for admission to technical institutions. The problem lies elsewhere. It is the poor quality of education provided in many of these new institutions that is failing to attract students. Studies have indicated that the employability of engineering graduates in the country is quite low. Since most of the students come from middle and low income groups, getting an employment immediately after finishing the degree is important.
This quality depends on high-class educational infrastructure, qualified faculty, motivated students and research-driven teaching. Most newly established engineering colleges lack on these aspects. But even those institutions like IITs and NITs which are able to attract large number of aspiring students also lack at least on two counts – sufficient numbers of qualified teachers and research-driven teaching. The matter was raised in Parliament some time ago regarding shortage of faculty in IITs. At a time when 'skill shortage' is frequently bemoaned by industry, nearly half of all teaching positions in IITs and over half in NITs are lying vacant. It is not only the newly-created IITs and NITs that face shortage, even the older IITs have over 40% of their teaching positions vacant and the situation in old NITs is even worse, with 57% of faculty jobs finding no takers. The Parliament question inquiring about this shortage was answered on