State of Engineering Education In Tamil Nadu

l by N.S.Venkataraman
(March 24, 2012, Chennai, Sri Lanka Guardian)  It is disturbing to know from a recent study report that only a fraction of graduate engineers passing out from the engineering colleges in Tamil Nadu get jobs on all India basis and their share of employment in IT sectors are also steadily declining compared to several other states in the country. Those who have high expectations about the engineering education in Tamil Nadu would be surprised by the above findings of the study.
Number of engineering colleges in Tamil Nadu are now around 500 (Not many people seem to know the exact number of engineering colleges in Tamil Nadu due to the number of colleges increasing every year). It is reported that atleast 20,000 seats in engineering colleges go unfilled in the recent years. Such trend is likely to continue in the forthcoming academic year also.
What is surprising is that inspite of the presence of many engineering colleges in the state and the seats not being filled due to want of students, more engineering colleges are sought to be set up in the state. This situation really creates some suspicion about the motives of those who want to set up engineering colleges.
Even amongst the 1,50,000 odd students in the state engineering colleges, as many as around 30 percent of the students are reported to be recording poor academic performance and fail in one or more subjects every year and get degree only after writing arrear examinations several times. These conditions indicate that there is deep inadequacy and flaw in the engineering education in Tamil Nadu, which call for urgent remedial steps and correction.
Many private engineering colleges in Tamil Nadu appear to be facing some basic issues
Quality of the students:
In view of huge capacity creation for engineering education ,any student who get minimum marks in Plus 2 level and can find money to pay for fees etc., can get admission into engineering college. With so many seats remaining unfilled, there is practically no filtration of the students at admission level. Therefore, many students who join engineering colleges are found to have inadequate merit level to undergo the tough engineering education.
In earlier days, students used to chase engineering colleges to get admission. But, today it is the other way with the engineering colleges chasing the students to increase the intake It is rumoured that some engineering colleges even go to the extent of employing brokers and middlemen to increase the students strength. This seems to be the reason why number of students from distant states like Bihar, Orissa and northeastern region come to the engineering colleges in Tamil Nadu.
In such conditions, while reputed and established engineering colleges get students with merit , most of the other engineering colleges get students whose merit level may not be of requisite standards. 
GET ANALYTICAL: A strong focus on analytical skills is needed to improve the chances of success in the AIEEE. Photo: K. Pichumani
Scarcity of teachers
With the rapid increase in the number of engineering colleges, the number of available qualified and experienced teachers are not adequate to meet the demand.
In view of such severe shortage of qualified and competent teachers, many retired professors are re employed for a long period. There is really nothing wrong in this. But, the age inevitably tell upon efficiency and alert level of these senior professors. There are reported to be seniors in age group of above 70, who are still employed by the colleges as teachers (full time or part time)
Those who get superannuated in jobs in industries but without necessary teaching experience seek teaching positions in engineering colleges and get the jobs as part of the second innings in their career. There are also those who have passed out in previous year and become a teacher in the subsequent year and taking full fledged classes .
About management
In recent time, most of the engineering colleges in Tamil Nadu have been set up by politicians, cinema stars and businessmen.
The promoters of several of these institutions have obtained approval as deemed universities and the promoter appoints himself as Chancellor. The sons, daughters and in laws or niece or nephews become pro chancellor or vice chancellor, registrar etc. Same is the case in several other private engineering colleges, where it is not uncommon to find the relatives of the promoter occupying key non academic positions.
It appears that the administrative positions in these engineering colleges have now become hereditary,
Today, there is a big gap in communication between the promoters and teaching community and teachers sometimes feel “small” in front of the relatives and friends of the promoter occupying key positions.
It is not to say that all engineering colleges lack quality in management . Some of them are managed reasonably well but quite a number of others leave much to desire.
Lack of job opportunities
The unfortunate truth is that while number of engineers passing out of engineering colleges have increased substantially, the job opportunities for such engineers in the market have not increased in equal proportion.
As a result, the level of unemployment amongst fresh engineers are steadily increasing every year. While the graduate engineers passing with impressive academic record get jobs, those with lesser academic performance have to settle down for under employment or take up jobs in entirely different fields where the engineering knowledge are not required. Such engineering graduates have now been forced to compete with the science and arts graduates and sometimes even with +2 passed students in job markets.
This has created tremendous level of frustration amongst the graduate engineers, many of whom regret their decision to opt for engineering education.
Gullible and the poor students suffer:
Attracted by the marketing campaign of the promoters of the engineering colleges and enamoured by the prospects of their sons and daughters becoming engineers, many poor families are eager to admit their sons and daughters in engineering colleges, even though they can not afford to meet the expenses involved. Many of such poor families have been forced into debt burden to finance engineering education.
When the graduate engineers do not get the jobs at decent salary level after passing out, the hopes of the poor families about paying back the debt disappear and the entire family is driven to economic despair.
There are many poor families in Tamil Nadu facing this situation.
Responsibility of the government and All India Council For Technical Education (AICTE)
Such grave situation have developed since the government and All India Council For Technical Education have been according permission to start so many new engineering colleges, without relating the intake capacity to the employment prospects and availability of teaching faculty .
The government and AICTE have the responsibility to ensure that investment in engineering colleges would not be wasted and the students would not be misled. Capacity creation for engineering colleges can not be done in similar manner like creating capacity for production of consumer products.
It is high time that the policy towards according permission for setting up new engineering colleges should be reviewed with utmost care.

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Author: Sri Lanka Guardian

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