New Delhi: With the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) green-flagging 392 new pharmacy institutes out of a total of 552 approved institutes, it seems India is finally acknowledging its ongoing engineering crisis by offering academic opportunities to young aspirants in other fields.
For the academic year of 2018-19, AICTE has approved 290 pharmacy colleges certified to give diplomas to applicants along with 102 technical institutes aiding under-graduate and post-graduate degrees in medicine.
This comes in sharp contrast to the trend of the more popular academic choice bagging close to 18% sanctions.
In contrast, the Council approved only 36 engineering colleges that can provide degrees to students while just 66 diploma institutes were approved.
For the academic year of 2018-19, the Council approved the total closures of 68 diploma providing colleges and 83 degree providing engineering colleges. Additionally, a total of 151 engineering colleges have been approved for total closure in comparison to only seven pharmacy colleges that faced the same fate. Whereas, only seven pharmacy colleges that gave degrees were asked for total closure.
A highly-placed official at AICTE informed News18 that the organisation allows colleges to have post-graduate programmes only if there is the provision of an under-graduate degree as well.
A dent in the popularity of engineering as a career option can also be deduced from the fact that almost 130 engineering colleges have withdrawn approval due to no admission in the previous academic year. The number goes down to 21 for pharmacy colleges.
Students seem to be looking out for new career options as only 20 new MBA colleges received approvals with 75 being ordered for total closure.
Additionally, there is a reduction in approximately 2.6 lakh engineering seats in the country. On the other hand, pharmacy seats witnessed an increase of approximately 24,000 seats. While the comparative numbers seem skewed, number of engineering seats fell by 9.12 percent and medicine seats rose by 13.39 percent.
Senior officials in the Council informed News18 that colleges that lack proper infrastructure and report less than 30 percent admissions for five consecutive years need to be shut down.
According to data hosted by AICTE, it has approved the progressive closure of more than 410 colleges across the country, from 2014-15 to 2017-18.
The 2003 UR Rao Committee had alerted the government of an excess supply of engineering graduates in the country. However, the recommendations of the report are yet to be formally adopted by the government.
In 2017-18, approximately eight lakh engineers graduated out of which only half of them bagged jobs through campus placements.
The Rao committee had recommended a five-year moratorium on approvals for undergraduate technical institutions in states where the student intake exceeded the then national average of 150 seats per million population.
In 2016-17, half of the 15.5 lakh BE/BTech seats were vacant in 3,291 engineering colleges in the country.
Indian Express reported that according to a study by Stanford University and World Bank Russian and Chinese engineering students were better than those in India.
Indian students make substantial gains in mathematics and critical thinking skills in the first two years of their education compared to their counterparts in China and Russia, but their overall higher-order thinking skills are substantially lower than that of Chinese and Russians.