The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) has agreed to shut down 58 polytechnic courses offered to engineering diploma students across the state and reduce the number of seats in 150 other courses. This move left 6,700 seats out of bounds for aspirants.
While polytechnic institutes have been mushrooming, the demand for diploma courses has fallen leading to vacancies in these institutes. Some of them even discontinued unpopular courses. Last year, 84 polytechnic courses were shut in the state — none of them from the city — and the intake of 70 more courses was reduced considerably. The overall intake dipped by 6,559 seats.
Currently, out of the available 1,66,751 seats in the first year of diploma courses, only 74,636 seats have been filled leaving 55% of seats vacant. The situation was just slightly better in 2015-16, when 89,525 students were admitted to 1,73,310 seats and 48% of seats were unfilled in the end.
According to experts, shrinking job opportunities for diploma holders is the reason for the decreasing demand for the courses. “The students are reluctant to join electronics and electronics and telecommunication branches, which form 30-40% of the intake. While the engineering graduates from these branches join information technology (IT) companies, diploma holders don't find opportunities here,” said Suresh Ukarande, faculty coordinator for technology at the University of Mumbai (MU).
Another reason: many engineering aspirants prefer appearing for the state's Common Entrance Test (MH-CET) or the national-level Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) conducted by Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) after class 12 for admission to degree engineering courses. But those who complete the three-year diploma course are directly admitted to the second year of the four-year degree engineering course.
“If the students want to pursue degree engineering, they prefer to do that after class 12. And if they want to merely acquire technical skills, they do a course at one of the Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs)," said an official from the state’s Directorate of Vocational Education and Training.
While demand for engineering courses is falling, pharmacy courses continue to attract students. From the next academic year, 10 institutes will start offering pharmacy diploma courses, increasing the intake by 500 seats.