According to data collected from the Directorate of Technical Education from these five states, there are more than 2.5 lakh seats lying vacant. Many colleges did not even receive a single application for any of their courses.
Here are five reasons why.
1. Poor reputations
The problem of vacant seats is confined to private institutions and does not exist in government-regulated colleges. According to Ameeta Wattal, the principal of Delhi's Springdales School, institutions like the Indian Institutes of Technology and Delhi Technological University don't face the problem of vacant seats because they have a solid record of producing competent students.
“Both parents and students have become smarter" and know that institutions with poor reputations are best avoided, Wattal said. "They do a proper background check like finding out about the course material, faculty, alumni, previous year placements, college ranking, etc," she said. "Once you conduct a background check, it is not hard to differentiate good institutions from the bad ones.”
2. Lack of job opportunities
Both the global and the Indian corporate sector are still recovering from recession. As a result, the number of jobs is limited. Moreover, bigger companies prefer candidates from top colleges. Students from second-rung private institutes find work only in smaller organisations, where salaries are lower.
There are fewer jobs available than the number of engineering students graduating every year, said Deepak Pental, a former Vice Chancellor of Delhi University. This depresses salary levels. "Since, there is a dearth of jobs in the market and unending competition, applicants mostly take whatever they are offered," said Pental.
3. Courses in private colleges are expensive
While it costs relatively little to attend a government engineering college, independent institutions charge a fortune. Wattal claims to know many graduates from such private colleges who spent Rs 8 lakhs-Rs 10 lakhs in four years to complete their degrees but ended up with jobs that paid them only Rs 10,000-Rs 12,000 per month.
“A lot of middle class families take bank loans to get their children pursuing engineering courses, in the hope that their child will make millions once he passes out," she said. "But, over the years, people have realised that the returns aren’t as good because colleges are unable to place students into reputed companies with a decent salary package. So, they are refraining from letting their wards pursue the subject, unless the child gets through a top college.”
4. Poor standards
The course structures at many private engineering institutions aren't adequate, experts say. Even if they adequate infrastructure, teaching expertise is inadequate.
The problem is that many new engineering colleges have been established primarily from a business perspective to generate revenue, said JS Rajput, the former chairman of National Council of Teacher Education and former director of National Council of Educational Research and Training. The people running these institutions have no expertise in the field, he said. Compounding the problem, bodies like the All India Council for Technical Education "give approval to anyone interested in establishing a college and they do not scrutinise the facilities offered by them”, Rajput said.
5. Inexperienced faculty
The teachers at these colleges are often young and inexperienced. Many of them are former students who have failed to find engineering jobs.
“The faculty, specifically working in institutes based outside the cities, are usually not paid enough for them to live comfortably with their families," Rajput said. "Hence, quality teachers refrain from moving to institutes established on highways. As a result, most young bachelors between the age group of 25-30 are willing to relocate to the middle of nowhere and on a low salary. They end up teaching aspiring engineers, instead of assisting a senior faculty member."
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