Around 40% to 90% seats in most diploma, undergraduate and post-graduation programmes in engineering, pharmacy, computer application, hotel management and architecture programmes were vacant in 2015-16, according to the data released by the Directorate of Technical Education (DTE).
In 2013, the state had constituted a 21-member committee, headed by Institute of Chemical Technology (ICT) vice-chancellor GD Yadav, to look into the vacant seats in professional courses. The committee, among other recommendations, had suggested inspection of colleges, closing down and reducing the intake in some programmes, training faculty members, providing amenities to students and teachers and better co-ordination with the industry.
However, two years later, too, little seems to have changed. For example, in case of engineering courses, the total intake is the same, but the vacancies have risen, as fewer students opt for engineering programmes.
According to the DTE data, around 48% and 42% seats are vacant in diploma and degree engineering programmes respectively in 2015-16, up from around 34% vacancies in 2013-14 in both the courses. The vacancies in post-graduation engineering programmes have risen exponentially from 8.60% in 2013-14 to around 69% in 2015-16.
GD Yadav, who headed the state-level expert committee, blamed the deteriorating quality of education in the technical institutes. “Our report had highlighted the poor quality of education being imparted in professional colleges. We had suggested setting up a state-level ‘faculty cadre’ to train the teachers. But little has been done on that front,” he said.
Some institutes in the state have closed down their colleges and courses owing to poor demand. “The colleges don’t want to reduce the intake or shut down courses, as they don’t want to lose out on the fees they get from students and reimbursements from the government,” said Vaibhav Narawade, general secretary, Citizen Forum for Sanctity in Education. “The colleges tend to neglect the departments with fewer enrolments and don’t fulfil the faculty and other requirements of the department,” said Yadav.
“Earlier, there was little demand for civil engineering as more students opted for computer engineering. But now civil engineering is preferred by most,” said Rajesh Tasgaonkar, trustee, Saraswati Education Society, which runs several professional colleges in Karjat.
The University of Mumbai (MU) and DTE insisted they can’t force colleges to reduce the intake or closed down the course. “We have allowed institutions to voluntarily shut any course or college,” said MA Khan, registrar, MU. Subhash Mahajan, director, DTE, said the state has implemented a majority of the recommendations made by the committee.