Barring a few glaring examples, the majority of tier-2 and tier-3 engineering colleges are in a sorry state of affairs. Inappropriate infrastructure, lack of credible placement cells, and faculty crunch are a few mutual elements across them. Given the deplorable condition, you may be inclined to call engineering the grand old Indian cliché.
Indian engineering education landscape is replete with an overwhelming number of institutes producing lakhs of technically skilled professionals, annually. For the academic purpose, these colleges are classified into tier-1, tier-2, and tier-3 categories. If your college complies with the Washington accord, you are more likely studying in a tier-1 institution. For a tier-2 college, an ‘A’ certification from National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) is a requisite. Engineering Colleges failing to meet either of the aforementioned criteria constitute the list of tier-3 engineering institutes.
By default, IITs, NITs, and other central government funded colleges come under the tier-1 category while the tier-2 lists accommodate several private and state-funded institutes. Apparently, Tier-1 colleges vis-a-vis Tier-2 and tire-3 ones are elite members in the arrangements. They receive generous grants from the union government, which accounts for their thriving infrastructure, better faculty, and cutting-edge teaching techniques. In addition, recruiters prefer these institutes to diversify their talent pool. Unfortunately, their poorer cousins, the tier-2 and tier-3 colleges that are, are devoid of any such privilege. Let us take a holistic approach into issues that tier-2 and tire-3 colleges suffer from at large.
Stating that all tier-2 and tier-3 colleges go cheap on infrastructure is a blanket statement. There are a few venerated institutes, such as, but not restricted to, BITS Pilani, BITS Mesra, IIITM Gwalior, NIT Calicut, LMNIIT Jaipur, and VIT Guindy featuring infrastructure that can rival the best. However, such bright spots are far and few between. The majority of tier-2 and tier-3 campuses paint a dismal picture. They are devoid of even the necessities like clean drinking water, sanitation, lecture halls, and labs. Ill-equipped labs and classrooms, low grade IT setup, and small sized hostel accommodations are hallmarks of colleges with a ‘decent’ infrastructure. The grants these institutes receive are either underutilised and inappropriately utilised or insignificant enough to bring about a noticeable change.
Employability determines enrollment decisions, they say. After all, great career opportunities justify the toil, stress, and pressure that engineering students generally go through all their years in college. While the tier-1 counterparts grab top jobs, and healthy remunerations and benefits, the tier-2 and tier-3 college alumni may not find much favour with recruiters. The possible reasons for such apathy are the inferior quality of education, lack of exposure, negligible focus on faculty-student interaction, and insufficient infrastructure. If a study conducted by Aspiring Minds, an employability solutions provider, is something to go by, an overwhelming majority of engineers prefer software or core engineering jobs. Only a fraction of them ends up in product and core engineering roles. It implies that the number of engineers employable for challenging profiles is minuscule.
Additionally, a significant percentage of tier-2 and tire-3 alumni lack communication abilities and their verbal and written English skills are deplorable. Not many colleges make efforts to bring about a change and hence, students are left to fend for themselves. Moreover, the absence of placement cells in most institutions also restricts students’ placement goals.
The biggest issue ailing our technical education system is the faculty crunch. Right from tier-1 to tier-2 and tire-3 colleges, lack of faculty is central to all institutes. However, the issue is more pronounced in the latter category. Herein, the faculty-student ratio falls way short of the 10:1 requirement. The root cause of the issue is insufficient remunerations that the teaching faculty receives. Seemingly, young postgraduates seek greener pastures elsewhere, particularly in the West. Presently, Indians constitute a significant percentage of teaching faculties in the US and Europe, which substantiates the argument.
Moreover, the seasoned teachers are averse to the idea of change. They continue to embrace outdated teaching methodologies and promote rote learning, which deters concept understanding and creative thinking. In such a scenario, we cannot expect to create quality professionals who can take the world by the storm. As well, gaining ranking in the global higher education indexes will remain a distant dream. The situation needs to be addressed at the earnest, else be prepared for the ensuing catastrophe.
Insufficient Industrial Exposure:
In a field as dynamic as engineering, industry exposure has to complement academic learning. Sadly, our tier-2 and tier-3 colleges think otherwise. While tier-1 colleges are fortunate enough to have access to project works, internships and assignments that involve and promote industry experience, the tier 2-and tire-3 students are devoid of it in entirety. Accordingly, we are producing a staggering number of engineers each year who are proficient in the theoretical aspect of engineering but lack industry exposure. Their moment of truth comes when they are about to enter the demanding and dynamic labour markets.
Outdated Teaching Methodology and Curriculum:
While the world is increasingly embracing innovative pedagogy techniques, our tier-2 and tire-3 colleges still rely on outdated methodologies, books, and reference materials. Their focus is more on theory rather than practical learning, which accounts for low employability prospects. The student is expected to mug up intricate concepts and reproduce them as it is for the exams. Any digression from the standard practice results in low grades.
Seemingly, professionals these institutes create deviate from the core concepts of engineering educations like rationality, experimentation, and analytical thinking. In addition, their curriculum falls way short of the established education norms. For instance, our institutes still vouch for obsolete programming languages, including BASIC and FORTRAN. Contrarily, any decent college in the West incorporates currently sought after programming languages like Java, C, C++, Python, and Ruby on Rails to name a few. The situation is no different when it comes to the curriculum taught in core engineering disciplines like mechanical engineering and civil engineering.