Tech education: Engineering a future

Over two decades ago, getting an engineering seat in Tamil Nadu was like playing musical chairs. If you had the marks, you could run, but you had to be closest to the seat when the music stopped. The situation has changed over the last few years with the colleges now doing all the running around and there being more chairs than students.

In recent years, thousands of undergraduate engineering seats have been vacant after counselling, even in the more attractive branches such as Computer Science, Information Technology, Mechanical Engineering, Electrical and Electronics, and Civil Engineering.

This year, major branches accounted for 1,47,744 government quota seats offered through single-window counselling. But, of these, only 46% (68,735) seats were filled in the just concluded Tamil Nadu Engineering Admissions (TNEA 2017) counselling conducted by Anna University. On top of it, when the MBBS/BDS counselling begins, a few hundred applicants, who have been allotted seats in engineering colleges, could drop out.

This year, there were also reports that many colleges could interest fewer than 10 students during counselling. “We have to collect the data on admissions made through the single-window counselling, as well as admissions made by self-financing managements. Only then will it be appropriate to identify single-digit admissions,” said an official at the Directorate of Technical Education.

A revival in Information Technology as a subject seems to be a good news of sorts. In the last two years, more students have taken IT than they did between 2012 and 2015. Colleges began adding more IT seats in 2012 and the trend continued in 2013. But finding fewer takers, colleges began to keep away from the branch in the subsequent years.

Interest in Civil Engineering, whose graduates could be in demand in the construction industry, has also been falling steadily in the last five years. In 2012, there were 19,097 seats, of which 14,707 were taken. This year though, against…

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