The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Tech schools flunk test
Campus crisis
What: Thousands of Indian IT, engineering and management graduates lack skills and are unemployable
Why: Many professional colleges lack quality teachers and infrastructure, teach dated curricula, ignore research

New Delhi, Jan. 28: Behind the gloss of India’s steel-and-glass IT parks lies a lack of manpower versed in research and innovation, says the University Grants Commission.

A recent report by the education authority expresses concern at the poor quality of graduates and diploma holders being churned out by the country’s private technical institutes.

“In sunrise areas like IT, where India has world leadership, the industry is suffering heavily because of lack of employable and trainable manpower,” the report says.

The All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE), which sanctions professional education institutions, slashed 38,000 seats in engineering colleges and other institutes in 2005 after finding over 500 colleges substandard.

The council hauled up even the Calcutta and Jadavpur universities for not hiring enough teachers. Yet, despite the action by the council and warnings by its National Bureau of Accreditation, which certifies the institutes as qualified, the situation has stayed grave.

The UGC report says the quality crunch also blights other professional areas, such as management and engineering. “Some companies are now looking to hire graduates from other countries.”

With half its population aged below 25, India is seen by the developed world as a prolific source of skilled manpower along with China. But the potential has stayed on paper, with lack of quality teaching and infrastructure the bane of institutes.

One reason is the mushrooming of professional colleges since the early 1990s. The business of technical education is highly profitable, and experts say the private providers are caught in a scramble to rake in the cash.

The average batch strength at a business school is 60. With an average annual fee of Rs 50,000, the schools can easily make Rs 30 lakh a year.

AICTE officials say the council is under constant pressure from political leaders and industrialists to approve new colleges.

Many politicians from the south — the hub of private professional colleges — are believed to have pressured the council into sanctioning institutes that have neither qualified faculty nor the necessary infrastructure.

“According to industry sources, not more than 40 per cent of the nearly 300,000 engineering graduates are employable. Employability in today’s globalised scenario is seriously affected by poor communication and soft skills of our graduates,” the UGC says.

Five years ago, the Confederation of Indian Industry had called for a “quality road map” after being confronted with the “unemployability” of the existing manpower.

R. Natarajan, former AICTE chairperson, said there was a serious “gap between what we offer and what the industry wants”.

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