Campus placements for engineering students crossed the 40% mark (and hit 42%) for the first time in five years in 2017-18 on the back of more hiring by companies coupled with the closure of engineering colleges and lower enrolments.
While it is alarming that 58% of engineering studentsacross the country were still unable to find a job on campus, the 42% proportion is much higher than what it has been in the past. According to data from the All India Council for Technical Education, the figure was 38.39% in 2016-17 and 31.95% in 2013-14.
While more hiring was the driving force behind this, the closure of engineering colleges and lower enrolments helped too.
The enrolment figure in 2017-18 declined to 750,000 from 944,000 in 2013-14. Currently, 3225 engineering institutes under the AICTE, India’s apex technical education regulator, offer undergraduate courses. The number of institutes have declined from 3400 in 2014-15.
The poor enrolment rate prompted several states to ask the AICTE to ban the creation of more seats in engineering colleges. A number of states such as Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Telangana, Maharashtra and Rajasthan submittedpetitions to the AICTE, which reports to the Union human resource development ministry, not to set up new technical institutions.
According to people familiar with the developments, there has been an increase in the number of campus placements as the government had made internships mandatory to increase the so-called employability of students. Those who have successfully interned at companies find a job easier to land.
“More than 3.8 lakh students in third year secured summer internships, which is a major achievement. The number will go up further this year and will reflect in more students getting placed,” said a senior AICTE official on condition of anonymity.
A similar trend is seen with students enrolled for diploma and post-graduate courses in engineering institutions under the AICTE. In post- graduate programs, enrolment dropped from 100000 in 2012-13 to 68000 in 2017-18. Placements increased from 18% to 21% in the same period. Among diploma students, the enrolment figure dropped marginally from 680,000 to 670,000, while placements increased from 18.6% to 24%.
According to experts, the poor enrolment can be attributed to a near-stagnant job market for engineers or availability of more career options for students from non-engineering fields, which is making students turn to other fields of study.
“First of all, there is not much difference statistically. There are always errors in such reporting and this could be within the margin of error. Second, there is a reduction in number of graduates, and hence the same number of jobs would result in higher fraction of graduates getting a job. Third, the average quality of graduates may have gone up slightly since it is the poor quality colleges that are shutting down and students today have better access to quality education through MOOCs and other online material. So lots of factors adding tiny bit each. The internships may have also added a tiny bit. I wouldn’t agree that internships are the major reason,” said Dheeraj Sanghi, professor at IIT Kanpur.