Not just economy, higher technical education is facing an unprecedented slowdown in once most sought-after courses in information technology (IT), construction and pharmacy.
Technical education regulator, the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) has received applications for closure of IT, construction and pharma courses whereas there is demand for opening new courses in conventional education streams such as mechanical and civil engineering.
Around one-fourth of 4,000 institutes in India running IT courses and one-third of 1,200 colleges running construction courses want these courses to the closed. Of about 1,430 pharmacy colleges, about 200 institutes have asked AICTE to shut down some unpopular courses.
"Many of these courses were started on basis of perception rather than scientific data linked with future job market," AICTE chairperson SS Mantha said. "There is no linkage between starting a college and demand in the job market. This has resulted in skewed growth in certain sectors of technical education."
The number of technical education institutes doubled since 2005-06 when India's economy showed an impressive growth rate of over 8% with their number being 12,814 in 2011. Institutes opened up in nook and corner of the country and AICTE gave approvals without even checking infrastructure and quality.
The maximum jump was witnessed in IT, management and engineering, which has most of six million students in technical education in India, but now its time for slowdown. In 2011, the number of seats vacant in IT courses was around 40 % and around 30 % in pharmacy.
Such has been the situation that five states - Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Haryana and Chhattisgarh - have asked the AICTE not to approve any new courses or institutes in their states. Maharashtra and Punjab wants no more engineering colleges.
"We are not able to recover even the faculty cost," was comment of a director of engineering course in Punjab, who has sought the AICTE approval to close down the institute.