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Lessons in engg education

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The State Higher Education Council’s allotment of seats for admissions to first year engineering courses under convener quota is a big relief...

The State Higher Education Council’s allotment of seats for admissions to first year engineering courses under convener quota is a big relief for both parents and students who are on edge over the ongoing agitations for and against bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh. Since the list released on Tuesday was the first, there is plenty of hope for thousands of other aspirants in the next and final phase in the last week of September. Considering the number of engineering institutions the State has – 643 – and the number of seats available for rankers other than in the management quota – 2,34,488 – it should be surprising if an applicant doesn’t get admission as long as he/she doesn’t mind pursuing his/her dream somewhere in the State.

According to reports, only 1, 26, 390 seats were filled in the first phase, leaving 1, 08, 098 seats vacant. That means almost 50 per cent of admissions are still open and none doubts they would all be filled. Clearly, the availability has outstripped the demand by so much that some engineering colleges have to close down for lack of students. As of now, 13 engineering and technology colleges have zero admissions and another 150 have poor show. Only 92 colleges have put up ‘house full’ signs.

This year’s trend is not new; in the last academic year too, a somewhat similar situation had arisen, particularly in rural and semi-urban areas where the institutions exist only in name without proper infrastructure and staff. Their dismal academic performance and pathetic physical conditions don’t inspire students in any manner; on the other hand, the colleges invite criticism for opening them either to immortalize the name of some local leader or his nearest and dearest one as a great educationist. The plight of these colleges is understandable, considering the fact that whoever has started them may have had good intentions of providing higher technical education to boys and girls in their vicinity.

But, at the same time, the managements should have realized whether it is feasible to run an engineering college and known the difference between a primary school and an institution of higher learning. The kind of education such poor-show colleges provide is exposed when their students go for jobs in urban areas and when they have to compete with their peers coming from top-rated colleges. Though the urban-rural divide is perceptible, it should not put meritorious students in a disadvantageous position merely because they hail from a village background. This is where a majority of engineering colleges are failing students in making them excel in studies and failing themselves by their inability to sustain.
Who is to blame? Private college managements for their greed or the State government for permitting them to function knowing well that they can’t function efficiently, or both? The poor track record of such colleges – they are plenty in the State – comes to the fore at the admissions time and face a bleak future, not knowing what to do next. If such institutions are a blot on the education system for compromising on standards and ruining students’ dreams, the authorities responsible for licensing these institutions without giving a thought to their viability should also share the blame equally.
When education becomes a business and how to turn it into a profit venture is the motto, to expect world class standards is folly. Is it any wonder that no Indian university finds a slot in the world’s top list? Though there is no relation between our State engineering admissions and world-class centres of learning, the cleansing process should start somewhere. And, why should it not begin here?
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