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Engineering seats go abegging

The present stagnation in the job market has its direct impact on demand for seats in engineering colleges. IT giants like HCL, which recruited through campus interviews in 2011, have not been able to provide the jobs promised this year and are also not very enthusiastic about recruiting fresh hands. The result is a large number of engineering seats going vacant.

In Tamil Nadu, when the counseling for engineering college admissions ended, there were reports of 40 per cent of seats remaining vacant – 80,689 out of 2.05 lakh seats on offer. In contrast to the hefty demand for such seats for several years, today a number of colleges experience almost no demand.

 A major reason is the indiscriminate increase in the number of seats: over the last four years, 2009 to 2013, the number of seats offered increased from 78,664 to 124,774; but with the saturation, the slow- down in the economy and similar large growth in seats offered in neighbouring states, there has been a steep increase in seats remaining vacant: from 31,165 in 2009 to 80,689 in 2013.

Tamil Nadu has over 540 engineering colleges. Excepting the top few, most others do not have the requisite infrastructure in terms of lab facilities and qualified teaching staff. Understandably, the demand for admissions in these colleges has been extremely poor. In the state, the field is dominated not so much by people with academic credentials, but politicians with varied business interests. With the stipulation of a minimum acreage and building infrastructure, a large number of promoters are from the real estate business.

 Understandably, there is widespread demand for capitation fees in black money. Thousands of crores of rupees are collected. It is sad that the government machinery has not been able to tackle this menace.

P Chidambaram as Finance Minister attempted to monitor the transactions closely. But the imposition of a fine of even a couple of hundred crores of rupees is no deterrent and promoters of such institutions have diversified their business interests over vast areas.

 With the close nexus between these promoters and policy makers at the state level, the system has come to stay. Everybody is aware of the extent of capitation fees and the corruption involved in admissions, but little corrective action could be taken.  The result is falling standards and unemployable products coming out of such institutions. The cancer has spread so deep that it is so difficult to correct it.

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