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ENGINEERING EDUCATION IN INDIA

Rangan Banerjee Vinayak P. Muley

Sponsored by

Observer Research Foundation

Department of Energy Science and Engineering Indian Institute of Technology Bombay Powai, Mumbai – 400076

December 16, 2008

Engineering Education in India

Executive Summary India has the potential to be a global technology leader. Indian industry is competing globally in software and even in areas such an automobiles, chemicals and engineering equipment. A critical issue for the future success of Indian industry is the growth of engineering education in India. Since independence, the initial focus of government policy was to provide the engineers required for the developing economy. The setting up of the Indian Institutes of Technology, the Regional Engineering colleges (and their subsequent conversion to the National Institutes of Technology) were targeted at achieving this. Indian engineers established their reputation for engineering and design skills. Engineering in India is preferred option for bright students at the 10+2 level. This has resulted in a spurt in engineering colleges primarily in the private sector. Despite this, industry leaders complain about the absence of quality engineers for their industry. This is accompanied by significant unemployment rates amongst graduating engineers. There is a dearth of publicly available data on India’s engineering education system. We document the trend in the student intake, number of engineering graduates, post-graduates and Ph.Ds. In order to obtain these we used assumptions of Output / Sanctioned strength ratios and their trends. It is seen that is a regional disparity in engineering degrees with Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka having the highest number of engineering graduates per population. India awarded about 2.3 lakhs engineering degrees, 20000 engineering masters degrees and about 1000 engineering Ph.Ds in 2006. India’s doctorate degrees are less than 1% of graduate engineering degrees. The percentages of doctorate degrees to engineering degrees is much higher for most of the other countries studied (9% USA, 10% UK, 8% Germany, 3% Korea). A comparison of a few select Indian institutions – an Indian Institute of Technology, a National Institute of Technology and a private engineering college reveals some interesting results. An international comparison shows that most Indian institutions have not effectively evolved from under-graduate teaching institutions to teaching and research institutions. One of the biggest advantages of the top engineering colleges in India is the high selectivity – approximately 2-3% of the applicants are selected. This is much lower

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than reputed international universities. However the engineering education system has been unable to attract the best engineering students towards post-graduate studies. The IITs and IISc contribute to less than 1% of the engineering graduates in the country, 20% of the M.Techs and 40% of the Ph.Ds. Only about 1% (or less) of the graduating B.Tech class of an IIT opt for an M.Tech in India, while only 2% of the graduating M Tech class opt for Ph.D in India. About 75% of the engineering graduates are taught at the private engineering colleges. There are more than 1,100 private engineering colleges. However a ranking of the top fifty engineering colleges reveals only a small percentage of private colleges. More than 90% of the private engineering colleges are affiliated colleges that have little academic autonomy. The existing administrative structure and nature of private colleges results in very little financial autonomy with regulated fees and salaries accounting for 80% of the budget. A comparison of the Indian engineering colleges with some of the leading institutions of the world shows that it is possible for institutions to have student to faculty ratio of 15:1 or more and yet maintain a significant research output. In the report peer reviewed journal...
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