KOCHI: Over the years, there has been a steady decline in the number of students seeking admission to core engineering branches like mechanical engineering, civil engineering and electrical engineering. The situation is such that in many colleges, especially the self-financing institutions, the entire allotted seats for these courses remain vacant. However, the trend is directly opposite in the case of IT and associated courses.
“There is a huge demand for the IT courses but the number of seats is limited,” said A N Kareem, general secretary, All Kerala Self Financing Engineering College Management Association. According to him, there are many hurdles in getting the seats increased for the IT courses. “The courses that have a huge number of seats remaining vacant are mechanical, civil and electrical engineering. However, it is not possible to get these courses cancelled and obtain approval for new IT-related courses,” he said.
Association vice-president T Harikumar said, “As per the National Education Policy (NEP), the colleges can decide on the courses that it can offer. However, sadly, the policy followed by the university and also the state government is different.”
According to him, another issue that blocks any effort to correct this anomaly is the threat of losing the allotted courses. “If we want to start a new course, we have to surrender the existing one. But in the present scenario, even if we surrender the course, there is no guarantee that we will be allotted a new course,” said Harikumar.
The entire process is shrouded in uncertainty, he added. “For example, if we surrender two courses that together have around 120 seats, there is no guarantee that we will be allotted the same number of seats for a new course,” he said. “The necessity today is to boost the existing courses by providing add-on subjects that are tailor-made to the industry requirements,” said Harikumar.
Another issue that hinders such a move is the lack of trained faculty for the new courses, he added. “All these issues can be resolved if the state government liberalises its policies with respect to the higher education sector,” said Harikumar.
According to Sajith Thomas, an education expert, increasing the seats for the IT courses in the engineering colleges is not an answer to meet the increasing demand for workforce in the information and technology sector. “It is also impossible to do so. However, the one thing that the government can do is to come up with engineering programmes that churn out ready-to-work engineers, which is not happening at present. Hence, the shortage of workforce,” he said.
“The way the industries work is changing rapidly. Hence, the courses too need to change. For that, like in foreign countries, the industries in the country need to judge how the engineering programmes should run. Once that happens, the shortage of workforce and also the problem of unemployability of engineering graduates can be addressed,” said Sajith.
A P J Abdul Kalam Kerala Technological University Vice-Chancellor Dr Rajasree M S said, “There are no plans to increase the number of seats in the IT courses. The solution is integrating IT into the core engineering subjects. Any modern engineering artefact is a combination of domain-specific knowledge and IT. The university aims at helping engineering students achieve this capability through an inter-disciplinary approach.
“KTU has already started that approach. Minor programmes are being given alongside the core engineering courses. The university has structured the courses in that manner. However, vacancies that crop up in the core engineering courses can be attributed to the timing of the conduct and announcing of the entrance examination results,” she added.