The engineering bandwagon in India might be slowly grinding to a halt.
AICTE has said that it wants to close down around 800 private engineering colleges because they’re unable to fill their quota of seats and admissions are falling every year, TOI reported. Colleges that lack proper infrastructure and report less than 30% admissions for five consecutive years will have to be shut down, said the higher education body.
According to its website, AICTE has approved the progressive closure of more than 410 colleges across India over the last three years. Progressive closure involves the college not admitting any more new students in the first year, while continuing to run operations for students who’ve already been admitted. Once all students in a college graduate, the colleges shut down or turn into polytechnics or science and arts colleges.
This is a complete turnaround from the last couple of decades, which had seen a boom of higher education in India. Since 2003, India has added more than 1,000 colleges per year — the growth had peaked between 2007 and 2009, when as many as 7,206 colleges were built. In all, there are currently more than 35,000 colleges in the country, while 10,000 of these are engineering institutions.
But these colleges are suddenly finding that they aren’t able to attract students in the numbers that they once could. Most colleges which mushroomed over the last decade served as feeders for India’s IT industry, with names like Infosys, TCS and Wipro hiring students by the busloads. But the Indian IT industry hasn’t been growing at the pace it once was. Growth in IT hiring has all but stalled, and thanks to increased automation and global pressures, shows few signs of picking up.
And it’s not as though these colleges were ever focused on research, or preparing students for a higher education. India accounts for a measly 3.5% of the world’s research output, and hardly any of that research is path-breaking. China, which is often derided for producing cheap knock-offs, manages to produce 26% of the world’s original new research.
With private engineering colleges unable to get students jobs, or prepare them for higher education, they’re finding few takers. But at the end of the day, it might be for the best. The engineering college glut had meant that millions of young people were being herded into an engineering education, whether they liked it or not. A rationalization in the number of engineering colleges is a sign that students are looking at avenues beyond engineering. And they’re saying that even though they’re not studying engineering, all izz well.