Monday, 27 February 2012

Vocational education in India – Quality vs. Quantity
At the institution I work we have a training hotel for students of some of our courses. The clientele includes corporates, educational institutions, professional bodies like CII, AICTE etc.. One of the leading IIM decided to book our seminar rooms facility as Mumbai center for post-CAT GDs and Interviews and guest rooms for the professors eight years back. Other IIMs followed. Basically it was due to word-of-mouth publicity as IIM educators is a small community. Then private Management institutes followed. This was a result of recommendation of the superannuating faculty joining private institutions. So our management educational institutions market segment grew rapidly. Result is that this year we have back-to-back  as well as overlapping guest room  and seminar room bookings of IIMs & pvt. Institutes from Mid-February to Mid-April. There are new IIMs and IITs being added to our client list each year. There are so many national level institutes being set up in recent years. We are seeing the impact right here at our training hotel.
However, the question being asked is about the usefulness of such an exercise. The issue is of Quality vs. Quantity. More IIMs, IITs, IIITs, NITs, NIFTs, IHMs, AIIMs, Central Universities, World class universities (new category), engineering colleges etc. are welcome but do they deliver quality or just churn out graduates of poor quality. We now have 13 IIMs, 16 IITs, 6 IIITs (20 in pipeline), 30 NITs, 15 NIFTs, 51 IHMs, 7 AIIMs, 16 new Central Universities, 14 new World class universities (new category).  India is now home to 3,393 engineering colleges that have 14.86 lakhs seats; today there are 3,900 management schools with a total student intake of 3.5 lakh. Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh have about 70% tech institutes. When admissions closed last year, AICTE estimated that nearly three lakh seats were unfilled. Maharashtra has a rich pool of 348 engineering institutes and 408 MBA colleges. And the fact that 34,000 seats did not have any takers last year did not play spoilsport. However, the edupreneurs (education entrepreneurs) from Maharashtra are bullish on the growth This year  AICTE received 30 applications to start engineering colleges and 15 for MBA institutes from Maharashtra. State Governments such as Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Haryana and Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra told the AICTE to not to clear proposals for new institutes. AICTE may bar new engineering, management colleges from 2014.
On the other hand top B-schools across the country are set to hike their intake this year or the next. SP Jain Institute-Mumbai, plans to increase intake from 180 to 240, Sydenham Institute of Management-Mumbai from 60 to 120, XLRI – Jamshedpur 240 to 360.  ISB- Hyderabad has 570 seats, will have a new campus in Mohali with 200 seats. While there still is a huge gap between demand and supply in good schools, a large number of seats remain vacant in many institutes as they lack basic infrastructure and good teachers. Faculty Demand Supply situation remains lop sided. Issues relating to compensation package hamper the situation. Last year the country saw rising friction between IIT / IIM profs. with HRD Ministry over pay and autonomy. In the first week of the this year NIFT organized an interaction with the fashion industry. All big wigs from Ministry of Textiles and industry discussed quality issue. Opinions expressed indicated that rapid expansion of NIFTs has been at the cost of quality expected of them – main culprit being shortage of good faculty. Same is the fate of other streams. Recently many industry leaders have opined negatively about “employable” graduates coming out of IITs/IIMs etc.

India’s growth story will need many more professionals. We need to create a mechanism by which there is a continuous availability of faculty across the country. There is need for Faculty development, training the teachers, adequate compensation package and continuous interaction between institutions and stakeholders for quality improvement.

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