July 03, 2005

Engineering by the dozen

It got to the point where anytime I saw some very new-looking and usually slightly strange buildings in the middle of nowhere -- meaning out surrounded by fields off the highway -- I started looking for the sign. And sure enough, only a few seconds later the sign would drift into view. "XYZ Engineering College." Often still under construction.

Indeed: if the number of such institutions I saw from my APSRTC bus window along the Chittoor - Chennai highway is any indication, India is turning out engineers in phenomenal numbers. At any rate, we are putting up engineering colleges in phenomenal numbers.

We passed many before I had the sense to pull out my little diary and start writing down names, so I have only a short list, only from one side of the highway, and seen within the last 30 minutes or so of my journey. That list;

Nor is this restricted to this part of Tamil Nadu. Driving from Agra to Delhi in February, we passed engineering institutes in similar numbers. What is going on here? Do all these places have facilities? Students? Faculty? Well, Abi tells us of one such place which finds it hard to list faculty. And I've not found any faculty listed for any of the ones I've listed above. They do talk of alumni and placement, though. How do you have alumni without faculty, I would love to find out.

Then of course, somewhere between Saveetha and Sree Sastha (I think), we passed the Alpen Blitz amusement park. Cars creeping, beetle-like, up the slope of a convoluted roller-coaster. An interminably long cable-car system, dotted with hanging cars filled with one or more humans each. Their feet out in front of them, silhouetted against the twilight sky, travelling from one end of the park to the other, looking down at roller-coasters and parked cars. Just the thing for a lazy Saturday evening. Do Saveetha's students go take cable-car rides, or roller-coaster creeps, for leisure? What about its faculty?


Rabin said...

Its interesting that you've written about this since we were discussing this earlier this weekend. These colleges are government aided and there are enough and more faculty members in each college BUT these are 23-30 year olds with very little educational background. In some of these colleges the Head of a department can be 30-35 years old. One guy who flunked in nearly half of his papers in my class is now the head of the department of chemical engineering in a college somewhere in tamil nadu.

Needless to say, they get paid a pittance and usually these jobs attract people who do not find good opportunities in the corporate world.

Another interesting fact about tamil nadu, there are more engineering college seats available than there are applicants.

In one particular institution which was very popular one time, Annamalai University, the chemical engineering faculty has 50 lecturers and the current first year batch i believe has only 25 students. This is an institution that I had finished my engineering degree. Such a shame.

You've heard of capitation fees for students, another unknown angle is that the promoters of these insitutes often collect 5-7 lakhs from people who want to be lecturers. Since the salaries are paid by the government and they get all benefits of a government employee, it makes for a sweet scam.

Mandar said...

hi dilip! nice post. even bangalore has too many engineering colleges. i think there are about 130 of 'em in the whole of karnataka, with more than 30 of 'em in bangalore alone! of course, a lot of these institutions do not have proper infrastructure or facilities. lord knows what these colleges are gonna come to! its not helping anybody, having so many good-for-nothing colleges.

Anirudh said...

Engineering. Hmm...engineering. :)

Sriram said...

How many engineering colleges is "too many"? Who decides? I, Dilip or one of the commenters here?

These colleges opened up because there was a huge demand for engineering seats a few years ago. Now that the interest is dying down, those institutions that rose up to merely make a quick buck will automatically shut down.

As long as we keep the tax payer money out of this (which leftist dimwits will oppose), the free market system will take care of this on its own.

Nothing to fret about.

Samuel said...

Here's why education is important

The government does not pay the salaries for unaided institutions. And there aren't may aided Engineering colleges. They number in the single digits.

The government does not subsidize private engineering colleges. Infact the ones it does are the leading instituions in the state.