As many as 13 engineering colleges in the State have applied for closure with the Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University Hyderabad for the 2019-20 academic year. Most of the colleges that are shutting shops are lesser known tier-II colleges. Additionally, colleges have also sought approval for scrapping 35 BTech courses and 96 MTech courses, said Prof N Yadaiah, registrar, JNTUH.
The colleges have cited a variety of reasons, particularly, few takers for courses being offered, lack of finances to run the colleges, staff salaries and infrastructure maintenance. These reasons, coupled with stringent norms for faculty and infrastructure imposed by the university, and the government’s attitude towards the colleges are making it difficult for technical colleges, particularly those in the rural areas, to stay afloat. In 2016, as many as 21 colleges had applied to JNTUH for closure, followed by 50 in 2017 and another 11 in 2018.
Reacting on the fall in the number of colleges opting for closure, Prof T Papi Reddy, chairman, Telangana State Council of Higher Education (TSCHE) said the trend indicated that a demand and supply equilibrium was being reached. Srini Bhupalam, vice-president All India Federation of Self-Financing Institutions (AIFSFI) said that the brunt of closure will be borne by rural engineering colleges that are at a disadvantage due to their location. Initially, in 2008-09 AICTE had insisted on giving 50-50 per cent approval to circuit branches (ECE, CSE and EEE) and non-circuit branches (civil, mechanical, electrical, automobile, etc.). This resulted in problems for several colleges where civil, mechanical and other such branches have no takers.
“For the past three years, we have been asking AICTE to allow us to concentrate on courses that students are interested to pursue. But AICTE is adamant about having core branches in institutions. When students are not joining those branches, having them doesn’t add any value,” he said.
The private and deemed university on the other hand have an advantage - they can introduce popular courses. Even colleges that are not facing threat of closure have experienced a fall in the demand for traditional engineering courses. Goutham Rao, president of Telangana Private Engineering Colleges Association said, “Low demand for traditional courses has also resulted in several colleges reducing the number of divisions in each class and limit the number of students from 180 to 60.”
JNTUH had issued a notification asking those seeking closure of courses and colleges to apply by 2 February and later extended it to 5 February. It is expected that a few of these colleges will also be those that have already been granted progressive closure by the All Indian Council for Technical Education. As per the norms colleges that have registered less than 30 per cent admissions for three consecutive years can apply for progressive closure under which no new admission would be taken but classes would be ongoing for the already enrolled students. While it is AICTE’s prerogative to give a green signal for such closure, in the final year, the college has to approach the affiliating university, in this case, JNTU-H, for permanent closure.
In 2018, a committee was constituted to look into the “next-generation Engineering skill requirement”
n Introducing UG BTech programme for AI, IoT, Robotics, Data Sciences, Cyber Security, etc.
n Introducing multi-disciplinary engineering courses in Computational Biology, Biotechnology, Biomedical, Space Aerospace, etc., by reducing seats in conventional disciples and converting them into seats for these