Vacant Engineering Seats – Reasons & Consequences!
It was not long ago that a seat in an IIT or IISc was among the most coveted prizes for a candidate who set his sights at receiving the highest quality of engineering education provided by the country. To pave the way for a highly decorated and successful career, thousands of students across India have studied hard and scored consistently at their coaching classes, not succumbing to the peer pressure. The quality of the questions asked in JEE, easily making it one of the hardest exams to crack, ensures that only the brightest of the students get into the IITs. After all these efforts, it is difficult to come to peace with the fact that there were 121 vacant engineering seats after the JEE counselling this year. That is what this article is focussed on.
However, times have changed and so has the culture of students aspiring for engineering education in the country. According to recent reports, the admission into these seats of excellence lays bare certain grave details, that points to a shift in the outlook of students towards IITs and to the branches of engineering open to them. There were seven rounds of allotment into the IITs this year.
After the conclusion of the counselling procedure, 121 vacant engineering seats were left of the overall 10,998. It is much more alarming to note that this number has been on a meteoric rise for a few years – 96 in 2016, 50 in 2015 and 3 in 2014. On announcement of the issue to be taken up by the Joint Announcement Board (JAB) on August 20 and a concerned Human Resources Ministry asking IITs themselves to provide insight into the matter and come up with a viable solution, a multitude of opinions – including those of professors at IITs and education experts – have been floating around. Let us take a quick look at some of the factors that may have resulted in this pickle.
According to Dr Pradipta Banerji, a professor at IIT Bombay, students are no longer being seen running after admission to an IIT, and this points directly to a change in their mentality towards engineering. He went on to say that while candidates appear for JEE Advanced to please their parents and even score good ranks, their sights might be set elsewhere, where their interests lie. However, few experts are of the opinion that students think more of the long-term relevance of the branch they choose and are inevitably disappointed since certain branches do not fare well in the job market. These include pharmaceutical engineering and ceramic engineering, which have left 23 seats vacant in IIT Varanasi, the most severely hit among the IITs. While calls have been made to scrap such streams, Dr Banerji believes that a reduction in intake would suffice. Another viewpoint of the matter is that students prefer to choose a better course in other institutes, rather than an ordinary one in an IIT.
Another reason behind so many vacant engineering seats is that the students prefer to choose a course in a non-IIT, with better job prospects over another at an IIT. Evergreen courses like computer science, mechanical engineering, electrical and electronics engineering, etc. still attract companies, even in other colleges like NITs, IIITs and other centrally funded technical institutions. However, the situation is not so different in them as well, with more than 6000 seats still left to be taken up with one more special round of seat allocation to be conducted soon. This can be attributed to the 50% state quota seats, which are converted to all-India quota if left unfilled after offering to eligible candidates from the state.
It is indeed saddening to note this trend of vacant engineering seats. Even though it doesn’t point to the quality of education provided in the IITs, it definitely brings forth the losing shine of engineering as a career path in India to the limelight. Since it is absolutely imperative that India churns out more engineers of the highest calibre, let us hope that this issue is dealt with strongly and the value of a seat in IITs be placed where it once used to be.
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