New Delhi: Concerns about the quality of higher education have prompted at least four states to write to the central government urging it to not allow setting up of technical education colleges, including engineering and management colleges, from 2018.
The states of Telangana, Rajasthan, Haryana and Chhattisgarh have also urged the centre not to allow existing colleges to expand capacity as thousands of seats are lying vacant, according to two government officials as well as official letters reviewed by Mint.
“In view of large number of seats lying vacant in all the courses... no new technical institutions may be allowed to open for next two sessions, i.e. 2018-19 and 2019-20 in the state of Haryana," the letter written by the state government to the Union human resource development ministry states.
Underlining the need for an “overhaul of the technical education system", Haryana’s letter says that there is already an oversupply of technical institutes, including engineering colleges and B-schools, in the state, and the quality of many of them is questionable.
The letter pointed out that in 2017, B.Tech courses saw takers for only 31% of the total intake capacity in the state.
On an average, Haryana has seen 30% occupancy in B.Tech colleges over the last three years, according to official data. Besides, in 2016-17, only 41% of all MBA seats and 16% of MCA seats found takers.
Telangana has, in its letter, urged the professional education regulator All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) to “declare a holiday on establishment of new technical institutions from the academic year 2018-19".
“The holiday applies not only with regard to establishment of new engineering colleges in the state but may also be extended to B.Pharm, MBA/MCA institutions," it states.
The move indicates that the centre and states are on the same page on curbing the mushrooming of technical institutes in the country. Such institutes are often accused of working like “degree factories" rather than producing an industry-ready workforce.
The Telangana education department has suggested that the education regulator should not even allow a second shift in engineering colleges. “AICTE should consider disbanding totally this policy of permitting second shift in engineering colleges," the letter said.
According to official data, there is an almost 40% reduction in enrolment in M.Tech courses in Telangana in 2017-18. Besides, 61 colleges in Telangana closed down M.Tech courses in 2017-18. “Keeping this in view, it is proposed that no more colleges may be permitted in the next 2-3 years," the letter said.
It also suggested that AICTE should not sanction any intake in excess of “120 students per branch at the undergraduate level and 24 at the postgraduate level in any of the programmes...". It has highlighted how the “unbridled growth" in colleges has impacted both intake quality and capacity.
Similarly, Chhattisgarh has written that besides the oversupply of seats, just 5% of teachers at these professional colleges have PhDs. The state has submitted a 12-point list on how it wants technical schools to be regulated. Among them are suggestions that call for capping intake in B.Tech programmes, no approval for opening new MBA and MCA colleges, and approval of M.Tech courses only at government colleges. It also suggests that diploma colleges seeking to upgrade to degree colleges should not be allowed to do so but those seeking to downgrade be allowed. It has asked AICTE to allow new colleges in districts where there is none at present but with prior approval from the state government.
“The present condition of many professional colleges is a worry for everyone—education providers, students and industry. The country needs far less of such schools and others should either close down or offer courses which industries demand," said H. Chaturvedi, alternate president of the Education Promotion Society of India, a federation of private education providers.
An HRD ministry official, who declined to be named, said the ministry has forwarded the suggestions to the AICTE for appropriate action.