Friday, March 17, 2006

Do we need so many Engineering Colleges? part - II

This is continuation of last post which you can read here. This post presents the other side's view on the topic "Do we really need so many engineering colleges". Do wait for the third and final post on this which compiles the interactive audience rounds of the talk show.

Next speaker in the talk show - resident editor of a leading hindi news paper started with a clear statement - "I am extremely opposed to the idea of having so many engineering colleges".

Quality of Engineers
His argument was that more number of colleges has two impacts. First the quality of education and hence that of the engineers reduces. Second people lose the craze for such careers when they are available in such huge numbers.

The quality angle: Large number of colleges means increasingly colleges produce output who are unable to translate learning into action. Thus one might be generating large number of engineers but they do not meet industry standards.
Further, quality faculty are not available to feed such large number of engineering colleges. This leads to further loss in quality of education.

He referred to incidents when he was in the USA in 1998 some people who were recruited from Indian universities including the the IITs and the IIMs were shown the pink slips because they were unable to perform. So referring to my point of India becoming the source of human capital for the world he said "Serving the world is connected to performance & low quality education cannot bring performances. Thus the intention of becoming the source for human capital remains a far dream"

In fact I meet so many people who get their children to do engieering for a curious reason. So that they can get a good match for their child and also a fat dowry.

Engineers or MBAs
Further he was pained at the trend of engineers increasingly queuing up to become MBAs. According to him the government invests in an engineer and when they get into MBAs it is wasted. India still falls short of needed technical talent. Thus he feels that more engineers just means more managers and thats useless.

Lastly the increased focus on jobs has brought about increased career pressure on the students. There have been cases of suicides in IITs and even an IIM because of this stress. He pointed to the need for parallel development in education.

The last speaker himself an erudite engineer - has taught in all reputed engineering colleges of Indore purely out of passion. Because as a profession he is an industrialst who deals in, guess what, engineering equipments of course. His company Printronics Ltd. supplies indigenously designed electronic gadgetery useful in defence and some sports. Here is what he has to say

Dropping Quality
Already engineering colleges are burgeoning and quality is dropping. Students with less than 50% marks in PET are offered admissions. The quality of today's engineers being churned out is highly doubtful. Thus Engineers often take the job of technicians in the industry. The basic concept of an engineer was that he would design but today's engineers typically get into implementation or supervision jobs. We are no more creating engineers, rather we are printing engineers - "Hum Engineers Chaap Rahe hai"

Lack of Good Teachers
The increased numbers of colleges has created a big vaccum of good teachers. Today fresh engineers who fail to secure a job get recruited as teachers in these engineering colleges. The problem thus is compounded as the students who are taught by these teachers are obviously lacking in their technical understanding. He said that he takes a few engineers in his industry every year for some technical training; However out of 11 colleges in Indore he allows engineers from only three (SGSITS, IET and SVITS) for such training. "I simply cannot trust the quality of others."

Making such teachers teach in colleges is like blunting the creative talents in our youth. That is the reason why India is years behind in technology and it has no research and development base to talk of. Both Japan and India started nation building at approximately the same time however Japan has marched all over us through technical superiority.

Whatever good faculty we had in earlier colleges are now deans in one of those colleges and hence even established colleges do not have enough good teachers. He is himself an alumnus of IIT Kharagpur and he pointed out that the IIT had to close down a couple of PG courses as the faculty in that area left.

The need is to have lesser colleges which are closely watched and controlled for ensuring quality delivery of education.