A Fire In The Belly

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 17 Apr 2018 12:12:58



By dr s s rathore

Nowadays, news and reports are claiming that majority of the engineers passing out from private engineering colleges are unemployable as they do not have necessary employability skills. Jokes are being shared across the social media about their unemployability. Many good and promising students are distracted from taking admissions in engineering and looking for other options triggering the closure of many engineering colleges. The recent changes in the US and Australia immigration policies have also disheartened the students who were looking for oversees employment. As such, each and every stakeholder is concerned in finding the root-causes of this failure and suggesting the remedies to rectify the private engineering college system. Unaided colleges started in 1983 in Maharashtra and its first batch passed out in 1987. Around 1997, there was boom in IT/Computer Engineering and everything was going well till 2010. As a matter of fact, the question of the quality of engineers started coming to surface thereafter. The real question is what has suddenly changed after 2010?

As a matter of fact, after 2000-2010, the colleges have improved their laboratories. New training kits, computers, software, and high-speed internet connectivities are available. Faculty have gathered higher degrees like PG and doctorate. Technical and reference materials like books, magazines, online journals, NPTEL videos have improved learning experiences. Conferences, STTPs, seminars, workshops, robotics competitions, personality development sessions, are increasing. Students are also updating their skills with certifications and summer courses before graduations but still the situation is worsening everyday. Clearly these remedies have not worked.

Let us thoroughly consider whether following issues have contributed to the downfall of the system:
1. The demand of the industry for engineers and their skill set is dynamic whereas AICTE procedures and norms to vary intake are very static and can not meet the market requirement. As a few core branches of engineering are completely crashed these days, can colleges be assigned a fixed overall intake (static) and a floating intake (dynamic) in order to balance the market conditions?
2. University affiliated colleges are bound to follow the syllabus prescribed by the university. Changing the syllabus at the University level is a very complicated and time-consuming process completely missing the dynamism of the requirements of industry.

3. Is it that Industry is not willing to spend on training of fresh engineers which they were few years back hence they are pressing for industry ready engineers? Is it like expecting a heart surgery specialty in the MBBS course itself? Are we supposed to sacrifice fundamentals in the syllabus because of pressure of industry? Are we, as academicians, clear about discrimination of the specialisation at UG level and PG level and doctorate level? Are we missing a fact that many engineers after UG opt for other courses like management, banking or continue with their ancestral business?

4. Has easy entry and poor cut off to engineering course has spoiled the game? Is industry not responsible for poor intake quality as they are offering only hand-to-mouth salary to freshers even after a rigorous campus-placement drive. Why the good students should choose a profession that is going to offer them only Rs 12000 to Rs 15000 in the beginning?

5. Despite being computerised, the Scholarship disbursement system of the Government has pathetically backfired. Many colleges are not able to disburse salaries to their staff because of the non-receipt of their pending scholarship amount. This is causing dissatisfaction among the staff members directly affecting their academic performance. DBT has complicated the matter even further.

6. AICTE has encouraged faculties to obtain higher qualifications like PG and Ph.D. But unfortunately it has not essentially translated into teaching-learning quality. Faculties have stopped actively participating in project guidance, instead they are busy and worried about their Ph.D. and research publications as the promotions are linked with qualifications. Moreover, faculty with Ph.D. have occupied higher positions in colleges and Universities. Most of such positions are more administrative and less academic... miles away from actual classroom teaching. Why industry and AICTE is silent to comment on whether faculties with Ph.D. who are promoted in colleges are employable in Industry or not? Has policy of AICTE to promote only PhDs backfired?

7. Are we too rigid about the examination system like theory component has to more than practical even if the subject is best learned in practicals? Are we too rigid about the unitized paper pattern so that question papers are predictable and students can pass the exam with easy solutions without even reading standard textbooks?

8. Vision & Mission based NBA is now outcome based and rely more on paperwork than the reality. Unfortunately many students clear the examination by merely obtaining borderline marks in the examination. Is it justifiable to claim that objectives are satisfied by passing on the border level? Is NBA only a paper work and the output based model only theoretical and not relevant to the private colleges like ours, which are mostly catering to the needs of rural students who fail to seek admissions in IITs/NITs and other good colleges.

9. A college can run a PG course even if its UG course is not accredited. A new college can not demand for increase in intake beyond 300 without accreditation but old college having higher intake than 300 is allowed to run the courses. Is AICTE confused about quality of technical education? Many of the AICTE norms are not practical.
All in all, there are so many discrepancies in the entire setup and every stakeholder, including but not restricted to the industry, should work hand-in-hand to fine-tune the system for better results in impending future.
(The author is Principal (on lien) of MIET, Gondia and can be contacted at [email protected])