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Vacant tech seats hit a record high

Nearly 6,000 seats in private engineering colleges will remain vacant this year with the state government deciding not to hold any more counselling sessions after the third round that ended on Tuesday.

The number of vacant seats in private colleges at the end of the final round of counselling last year was 2,629.

Around 57,000 students — ranked till 80,000 on the joint entrance examination merit list — were asked to attend the third round of counselling. But only around 700 turned up.

There won’t be any more counselling this year, said an official in the higher education department.

The number of vacant seats has come as a shock for the government, which has been allowing private groups since the mid-1990s to set up engineering colleges in an attempt to spread technical education.

“The number of vacant seats had never been so high.... One reason is that only 10-12 per cent of Higher Secondary students study science,” said Sidhartha Dutta, the chairman of the JEE board.

Only 50,000 students from the science stream cleared the HS this year. “How can we fill up the 29,000-odd engineering seats with so few science students clearing the plus-two exam?” said a teacher of a state-run school. Datta stressed the need to improve the standard of science education in schools. “That will draw more students towards engineering education.”

Many involved in engineering education, however, feel a key reason for so many seats remaining vacant was the poor infrastructure and placement opportunities in several private colleges. “Students are shunning seats in below-average private colleges,” said a teacher in a government engineering college.

Metro had on August 2 published a report highlighting that students were turning down seats in colleges without the right faculty and facilities even if that meant losing the opportunity to pursue courses of their choice.

According to some, the rising cost of engineering education is another deterrent. “A student in a private college has to spend Rs 5 lakh in four years. Many families cannot afford that,” said a teacher.

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