The two most coveted streams of engineering at Jadavpur University — computer science and engineering, and electronics and telecommunication — together accounted for 70 of the 261 vacant BTech seats after counselling by the West Bengal Joint Entrance Examination board.
The university started independent counselling on Wednesday to fill the vacant seats over a four-day window. As many as 38 seats out of 86 in computer science and engineering, and 32 out of 86 seats in electronics and telecommunication were vacant till the start of the decentralised counselling by JU. JU has 1,253 BTech seats across 16 disciplines.
The staggering number of vacancies surfaced after JU collated figures based on responses to withdrawal forms that were sent to all enrolled first-year students. In the form, JU had asked how many of the students might shift out after the JEE board completed centralised counselling in late September. In JU, students who usually rank within the top 200 in Bengal JEE opt for computer science and engineering and electronics and telecommunication engineering.
The vacancies registered in the two coveted streams suggest that many top rankers from the state JEE have chosen other institutes like the IITs and NITs over JU. A professor of computer science and engineering said that some of the students quit because the IITs “offer a better brand image”.
“The cost of studying engineering at JU is a fraction of, say, the IITs. But the better brand image is driving students away. Some decide to pursue MBBS and eventually quit,” he said.
At JU, the annual tuition fee for an engineering student is Rs 2,400. The annual tuition fee at NIT Durgapur is Rs 1.25 lakh. At IIT Kharagpur the fee is Rs 1.50 lakh. Still, the enrolled students at JU students are shifting to institutions that charge higher fees not just because of better brand image but also infrastructure and placement possibilities.
When JU had started the decentralised counselling in 2014 after the state government decided that the state-aided universities could not keep BTech seats vacant, the exercise was held for only 147 seats. But over the years the vacancy count has only risen, suggesting that the university is failing to retain top-notch students year after year. Last year, the university had to conduct decentralised counselling for over 400 seats.
A JU official said even the domicile policy, introduced in 2019, which mandates reservation of 90 per cent of the engineering seats in JU in the general category for students who have passed their PlusII board exams from Bengal, is not stopping the exodus of bright students. Bhaskar Gupta, dean of the engineering and technology faculty, said when students have so many options to choose from, it was obvious that they would pick ones that they deemed better.