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India has seen a phenomenal growth in technical education since Independence with the number of engineering seats increasing from 3,200 in 1947 to 1.9 million in 2014-15.
But due to poor employability of engineering graduates and sluggish job creation it has taken a correction for the first time since 2006.
According to the data compiled by technical education regulator All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), the total intake of engineering colleges in India has fallen to 1.84 million in 2015-16 from 1.9 million in 2014-15 that is an all-time high.
According to the regulator’s website,” The growth of technical education in the country before independence was very slow. The number of engineering colleges and polytechnics (including pharmacy and architecture institutions) in 1947 was 44 and 43 with an intake capacity of 3,200 and 3,400 respectively.”
In the words of the regulator the policy initiatives taken in the five year plans and the participation of private and voluntary organizations in setting up technical institutions on a self-financing basis has also contributed to the growth in the number of engineering seats.
However in the recent times the poor quality of education and lack of job creation has led to the debate that whether there is a glut of engineers which has led the AICTE to ease the process of closure of technical colleges.
A government official who declined to be named stated,” There is over supply and this needs to be streamlined by easing the closure of ailing institutions and departments in sectors such as engineering and management.”
The official further stated.” The dip in number is a good indicator and suggests that the professional education space is becoming rational.”
There are nearly 3,500 engineering colleges in India and the technical education regulator is making a fresh count and the figures would be released soon.
According to Harivansh Chaturvedi, alternate president education promotion society of India, an association of professional education providers, the institutions are realizing that they need to be competitive and industry worthy in order to attract students or survive.
Chaturvedi who is also the director of Birla Institute of Management and Technology (BIMTECH) in Greater Noida said,” Employability is a key challenge for all education stake holders: institutions, industry and authorities. You may see the number going down further in coming years.”
S.S Mantha, ex-chairman of AICTE said,” There are three categories: very good, above average and below average institutes and students taking admission there. The question is can we as a country shut down these lower-rung institutions that too while talking about access and equity.”
He further added,” The other question is every one beats up the supply side but what about the demand side: do we have five million jobs a year for five million youth who are graduating annually? If you flip the employability vs job debate, you will realize that job creation is much lower than what it should be in last several years.”