MUMBAI: Two decades ago, just a percentage of aspiring Indian engineers found a seat in a techschool. Now, supply seems to have outstripped demand, with lakhs of engineering seats in Indian colleges going abegging.
State governments now want the country's regulatory body to reject fresh proposals for starting any more engineering colleges.
"We have received letters from the Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Haryana and Chhattisgarh governments telling us not to clear proposals for engineering institutes," said S S Mantha, chairman, All-India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), the umbrella body for professional education in the country.
Maharashtra, too, said sources, is firming up its pitch to AICTE after waking up to the fact that the number of vacant seats in engineering colleges has risen dramatically over the last three years.
AICTE records show that India produced 4.01 lakh engineers in 2003-04, of which 35% were computer engineers. In 2004-05, 1,355 engineering colleges admitted 4.6 lakh students, of which 31% were computer engineers. The number of graduates rose to 5.2 lakh in 2005-06. In five years, the capacity in technology colleges has more than trebled.
India is now home to 3,393 engineering colleges that have 14.85 lakhs seats available. Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh have about 70% tech institutes. When admissions closed this year, AICTE estimated that nearly two lakh seats were unfilled.
This glut in engineering seats has had experts worried. This year, AICTE relaxed entry norms for tech schools, hoping there would be a rush of students. But despite lowering the minimum score required to join an engineering college, there weren't enough students to fill all seats on offer.
"Seats are going vacant in rural parts of various states. There are no takers for specific engineering programmes, but the core engineering courses of civil, mechanical and electrical still have takers," Mantha added.
AICTE has told state governments to pass on copies of perspective plans of all universities, so that the growth of colleges can be mapped and controlled.