BE, BTech seats row: Karnataka surprises on engineering ghost campuses; see how

By: | Published: December 14, 2017 3:54 PM

AICTE - the apex body for technical education in India - monitored around 153 engineering colleges for poor admissions, under which only three were from Karnataka.

Karnataka has the sixth largest number of undergraduate engineering seats (more than one lakh) in the country. (Reuters)

Amid the reportedly degrading education quality in BE, BTech institutes in India, Karnataka is the state with the least vacancies among the top 10 states that together account for 80 percent of the total seats in the country, reported the Indian Express. It has the sixth largest number of undergraduate engineering seats (more than one lakh) in the country. AICTE – the apex body for technical education in India – monitored around 153 engineering colleges for poor admissions, under which only three were from Karnataka. In a shocking development, around 51 percent of BE/BTech seats are going vacant in the engineering colleges across India. Over 50 per cent of BE/BTech seats are going vacant amid abandoned lecture halls and ghost campuses. According to a 2011 survey by Nasscom, only 17.5 percent engineering graduates were deemed employable. Former IIT Kanpur director Sanjay Dhande says engineering as a profession has been “devalued”. While other experts say the problem of empty engineering seats comes with larger consequences for the economy. Amid all this what explains Karnataka’s relative success? Read on.

The right ecosystem-
• Much before the IT industry came up in 1991, Karnataka had an ecosystem of engineering excellence.
• The state had institutions such as the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
• Currently, Bengaluru is the fourth largest technology cluster in the world after Silicon Valley, Boston and London.
• It also has the largest number of R&D centres in the country. In short, a ready market for those who graduated from its engineering colleges.

Quality, checks-
• D K Subramanian, a retired professor of Indian Institute of Science (IISc) says he has noticed a remarkable difference in faculty (between those in Karnataka colleges and elsewhere).
• Because the state had a head start in engineering education, it meant they had a much larger pool of qualified faculty to choose from. Quality of education, as a result, has always been better in the state.
• Only one new engineering college was approved in the state in the six years between 1989-90 and 1994-95, as per the Indian Express report.
• Between 2000 and 2017, there have been only six years when the number of new colleges touched double digits.

The Untainted-
• While the crisis of vacant engineering seats has forced institutes in Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, among others, to lower the bar, there are several that administer a tough screening process to admit students to their undergraduate engineering programmes.
• Almost 100 government and government-aided engineering colleges in the country take in students only through the Joint Entrance Examination (Main) and Joint Entrance Examination (Advanced). These include 23 IITs, 31 National Institutes of Technology (NITs), 23 Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IIITs) and others such as Birla Institute of Technology in Mesra. This year, only one seat out of a total of 10,988 seats across the 23 IITs fell vacant.
• Many private engineering colleges also continue to keep the bar high. For example, BITS-Pilani takes in students through its own entrance test called BITSAT.

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