Maharashtra: Dip in demand for engineering; no takers for 55K college seats
Demand for engineering seats is low according to the state common entrance test (CET) cell, whose data reveals nearly 45% seats in first-year, undergraduate engineering (BTech) courses remained vacant across the state this year. While seats in government-aided and university-managed institutes have more takers comparatively, almost 98% of the total vacant seats are in private, unaided engineering institutes in the state this year.
Figures shared by the admissions authority shows 54,667 of the 55,444 vacant seats across engineering institutes this year are in unaided institutes. Vacancy in postgraduate (MTech) courses stands at 55.2% this year compared to 65% last year.
“The blanket ban on new engineering colleges has specially been implemented keeping in mind the mushrooming of private engineering colleges across the country. Year after year new private players start colleges, but the quality of teaching keeps dipping and seat vacancy keeps increasing,” said an official from the state CET cell. Last year, seat vacancy in BTech courses was at 48%.
Admissions to all professional courses were delayed by a few months in 2020 due to the pandemic and the ambiguity surrounding the implementation of the quota for socially and educationally backward classes (SEBC, also known as the Maratha quota) in Maharashtra.
After waiting for clarity on the issue of the quota, the state decided in November 2020 to conduct admissions to all courses without implementing the SEBC quota.
As per figures shared by the CET cell, vacancies in Masters in business administration (MBA) and Masters in management studies (MMS) courses stand at around 32.85% this year and seats under the economically weaker sections (EWS) quotas show vacancies across courses.
Over 76% seats in the EWS category have found no takers this year. Experts have blamed this on job losses in the Covid era.
“Students who secure seats under the EWS quota need to pay 50% fees, but that amount too could be too much for someone without a job. While students applied for the course in February 2020, many youngsters ended up losing jobs during the lockdown and that has strained the family income. This could’ve forced students to forfeit their admissions this year,” said Dr R K Srivastava, professor and head of department at Sydenham Institute of Management Studies, Research and Entrepreneurship Education (SIMSREE).
The EWS quota was first implemented in 2019 and data from the CET cell shows that in Bachelor in engineering and technology (BE/BTech) courses, seat vacancy in the EWS quota stood at 82% across government and private institutes in 2019-20 academic year with 1,877 out of 10,249 reserved seats finding takers.
Similarly, the overall seat vacancy in the EWS quota in Masters in engineering and technology (ME/MTech) admissions stood at 94% and 90% of seats under the EWS quota stayed vacant in management courses (MBA/MMS) that year.
“Demand for seats under the EWS quota is slowly picking up, but students are still unaware of the rules and regulations. In some cases, students had all the required documents, but were not aware that they will have to pay 50% of the fees, which many could not afford especially since fees at private institutes are higher than at government institutes. The government needs to look into this lacuna,” said a senior official from a government-run engineering institute in the city.