It seems engineering has lost its charm in West Bengal. Last year, over 37% engineering seats in the state were vacant. As a result, this year, as many as 2,000 engineering seats in the state have been slashed, two engineering colleges have closed down and several colleges have scrapped some engineering streams.
In a desperate attempt to fill up seats, even students who scored negative marks (less than zero) in the West Bengal Joint Entrance Examination (WBJEE) have been given ranks and declared eligible for admission. In order to ensure that students scoring less than zero too can be admitted by private engineering colleges without much criticism, the WBJEE board has only awarded ranks to the students. Marks obtained by them will not be mentioned.
Defending the WBJEE board’s decision to give ranks to all the 101,954 candidates who appeared in the examination, Shojol Dasgupta, chairman of the WBJEE board said, “This examination is conducted with the view of making a merit list. We are not giving marks but just ranks, in that way, students will get to know how many people are ahead of them.”
In 2015 after the third round of counselling, 50% of the total engineering seats in Bengal were vacant. And even after decentralised counselling, where the candidates are able to directly approach the colleges and take admission, most of the 37% management quota seats remained vacant.”
“We have given ranks to all the students this year to ensure that the seats do not go empty like last year. However, the government will decide till what rank students would be called for the centralised e-counselling but every rank holder will be able to participate in the decentralised counselling,” said Dasgupta. In 2015 all the students who got positive marks were called for e-counselling.
This year 36,363 seats are on offer across eight government colleges, eight state-run university departments, four private universities and 82 private colleges. Out of them 3,747 seats are in government-run engineering colleges and universities. The private engineering colleges have 31,596 seats and private engineering colleges are offering 920 seats.
Commenting on why the so many engineering seats in the state are remaining vacant, an official of WBJEE said, “Well, not every private engineering colleges maintain academic standard, some even lack basic infrastructure. As a result the placement too is very bad. And with the word spreading, students have become jittery. The government-run engineering colleges however would as usual continue to lap up the best students. So we cannot say that the demand has fallen in good colleges and universities.”
This year, in order to help the engineering colleges retain maximum students, the WBJEE counselling will start on June 15. “We will not be waiting for the JEE (Main) result. The counselling for the JEE (Main) students, who have 10% quota in private engineering colleges in the state would begin on July 3,” said Dasgupta.
As desperate measure to hold on to interested students, from this year students will not have to wait for admission till the third round of counselling gets over. “We have seen that since the waiting period is long students take admission elsewhere. So this year a student can take admission immediately after each phase of counselling gets over,” Dasgupta said.