Indian Technical Education On The Decline: What Led To This Mess?

Education regulators must take a cue from this crisis, and take merit-based corrective steps.

Published
Opinion
5 min read
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The recent announcement of the closure of a number of institutions by the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) in the session 2020-21, bespeaks the declining technical education in the country. Technical education encompasses programs related to applied arts and crafts, architecture, planning, design, engineering and technology, computer application, pharmacy, hotel management and catering at diploma, undergraduate and post graduate level.

The closure of technical institutions needs to introspected as regards whether it is a direct consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, or whether it is due to other factors.

No Of Technical Institutions & Student Intake On The Decline

As per the AICTE dashboard, the intake in overall technical education has reduced to 3,086,022, that is, by 6.06 percent, and the number of institutions has reduced to 9,672, that is, a reduction of 12 percent, in the 2020-21 session –– as compared to 2019-20, for Diploma, UG and PG level programs.

Diploma-level technical education has seen a constant rise in the number of institutions –– from 3,507 in the academic session 2012-13, to 5,505 in the academic session 2019-20. The diploma intake has seen an increase to 1,165,198, that is, by 10.9 percent in 2019-20 as compared to 2012-13.

Image used for representation.
Image used for representation.
(Photo: iStock)

The number of institutions and intake in 2020-21 has surprisingly fallen down to 4,510; and 1,070,676 respectively –– that is, the intake reduction is by 18.1 percent, and the reduction in the number of institutions is by 8.11 percent as compared to the figures of 2019-20.

Looking at the UG and PG education providers for engineering and technology, architecture, planning, design and MCA programs together within the ambit of AICTE, the number of institutions and intake were 4,413 and 1,831,123 respectively in 2012-13. The number of such institutions has been on a constant decline in every academic session post 2012-13, and the current number of institutions is 3,693 –– with intake of 1,510,488 in 2020-21 –– that is, a reduction by 16.3 percent, and 17.5 percent in the number of institutions and intake respectively, as compared to 2012-13.

Image used for representation.
Image used for representation.
(Photo: Altered by Kamran Akhter/The Quint) 
Snapshot
  • For a country with a demographic dividend, the decreasing intake of students in technical institutes is a matter of concern.
  • Such indicators do not bode well for an increasing young population who require that many more educational opportunities.
  • It is high time we introspect and understand the reality behind the loss of interest in the students, lest brilliant minds drift away from the prospects of technical education.
  • Technological developments being the backbone of our society today, the call for capable and competent human resource to carry it forward is all the more.

Why Do Courses Like ‘Pharmacy’ Suddenly Have a Surge In Intake As Compared To Programs Like ‘Management’?

Management education at the UG and PG levels was catered to by 3,866 institutions with an intake of 443,342 in 2012-13, which has dropped to 3,075 institutions with an intake of 382,053 in the 2020-21 academic session –– that is, a decline of 20.5 percent and 13.8 percent in the number of institutions and intake respectively, in the session 2020-2, as compared to 2012-13.

The situation is entirely different for the UG and PG programs in Pharmacy. The number of institutions and intake were 1,046 and 130,628 respectively in 2012-13 –– which had risen to 1,624 institutions with an intake of 164,423 in the session 2019-20. But the number of institutions and intake has reduced to 1,057 with an intake of 113,892 in 2020-2, that is, a reduction of 34.9 percent in the number of institutions, and 30.7 percent intake as compared to the 2019-20 academic session.

The UG and PG programmes of hotel management and catering were offered by 80 institutions, with an intake of 6,460 in 2012-13 –– which has seen an upsurge –– with the current intake being 7,096 through 79 institutions, in the academic session of 2020-21.

This is also the case with the UG and PG programs in applied arts and craft. However, a very small fraction of the total technical education institutes has seen an increase in the number of institutions from 15 to 22, and the intake has risen from 1178 to 1817 in 2020-21 –– as compared to 2012-13.

Image used for representation.
Image used for representation.
(Photo: PTI) 

Why A Decrease In Intake Of Technical Education Students Should Worry us

These statistics do not include the institutions which don’t require AICTE approval. However, these figures indicate the major fraction of technical education in the country.

But the actual number of institutions and intake in technical education is different from those available on the AICTE dashboard.

For a country with a demographic dividend, the decreasing intake is a matter of concern. 

Undoubtedly, we are amid a global pandemic, which has affected everything in our lives. But such indicators do not bode well for an increasing young population who require that many more educational opportunities.

A closer look at the complete statistics shows that such a trend has been signalling the loss of interest in technical education among students for quite a few years now.

The large number of vacant seats in every academic session has drawn attention earlier too.

Apparently, the discussions about, ‘core engineering disciplines finding it difficult to attract good minds’, ‘various reasons for seats remaining vacant’, ‘slow economic growth’, ‘lessening requirement of technical human resource’, ‘poor quality of education’, ‘poor employability’, ‘declining interest of students in technical education of the country’, ‘migration of students abroad’, etc in the past, were not enough to trigger genuine measures for the qualitative improvement in technical education.

A Commitment to ‘Transform’ & Take Merit-Based Corrective Measures

It is high time we introspect and understand the reality behind the loss of interest in the students, lest brilliant minds drift away from the prospects of technical education. Technological developments being the backbone of our society today, the call for capable and competent human resource to carry it forward is all the more.

Concerted efforts to improve the quality of human resource on either side –– that is, in the educational institutions from top to bottom, and the prospective students, can collectively transform this situation. The education regulators have to inevitably take cues from this downfall, and take merit-centric and honest initiatives, with a commitment to transform.

(Dr Onkar Singh has formerly been the Founder and Vice-Chancellor of the Madan Mohan Malaviya University of Technology, Gorakhpur (UP), the first non-affiliating technical University of UP state. Currently, he is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Harcourt Butler Technical University, Kanpur (UP). This is an opinion piece and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)

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