The government wants to run a quality check on engineering students to sharpen their skills before they graduate.
The human resource development ministry is engaging Stanford University to design a capsule test to measure learning outcomes of engineering students, HT has learnt. The test is likely to be introduced by the end of this year.
HRD officials said the proposed test is the result of feedback about skewed standards of engineering education in the country which produces around 8 lakh students annually from 3,000-odd registered technical institutes. Data show that 20 to 30% of them fail to land a decent job due to lack of skills or less demand from the industry.
Depending on the results, the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) will decide where and how to intervene to improve the standard of students.
HRD officials said the proposed test is meant to ensure that lakhs of engineers who graduate from these institutions are gainfully employed.
The test will be conducted in all engineering institutes such as the IITs or those perceived to be run-of-the-mill institutions.
It will comprise technical skills in physics, mathematics, and informatics, critical thinking and creativity, and quantitative literacy skills. AICTE will administer the project.
The test will take place once a year starting with the first and third year students. Similar tests are being conducted in the United States, Russia and China.
“This is a good step and we should assess students at an initial stage and in their final year. Similar tests can be done at the Master’s level too. China and Russia have such mechanisms in place,” said Ashok Misra, chairman of IIT Roorkee.
At this stage, the government does not plan to make the test compulsory. However, officials said since employers are expected to put a premium on institutions that join the process of quality test, most of them are expected to participate in it.
At an international workshop on students’ assessment in higher education held in Delhi last month, which was attended by representatives of Stanford University and World Bank, premier engineering colleges such as IITs were said to be amenable to the idea of a quality test.
“A number of engineering institutes have such internal mechanisms including IITs but such interventions are required and will help improve standards,” said the director of an IIT requesting anonymity.