Published: 27th March 2017
IITs, NITs to scrap 'unpopular' courses: Believe it or not, they're Engineering and not Humanities
The move intends to bring down the number of vacant seats in premier institutions, but IIT directors have indicated that the vacancies are mostly in some engineering courses and not in humanities
The HRD ministry's recent circular to IITs, NITs and other technical courses to scrap 'unpopular' courses flies in the face of many assumptions we have held dearly for many years. One, that the unsuspecting engineering aspirant would jump at any opportunity to join an IIT/NIT solely for its brand value, and two, these institutes offer the best and the latest in technical education and finally, that any IIT/NIT degree would make it easier to land a high-paying job.
The ministry's circular steers clear of all these assumptions. As per the data put up by Joint Seat Allocation Authority (JoSAA), at the end of joint counselling for IITs, NITs, IIITs and other government-funded technical institutes in 2016, 73 vacancies were left in IITs and 1,518 vacancies in NITs.
What brought us here? A former IITian says IITs do not inspire the kind of awe from students that it did, say in the 1990s. "Institutes like IIITs, BITS Pilani and many colleges have better core subject courses and centres that have better current relevance. The newer crop of IITs are yet to catch up with these institutes in terms of infrastructure and facilities. A smart person in our time wont be lured by an IIT tag like students did a decade ago," he says.
The complicated seat allocation process that offsets the chance of a candidate to change institutes after the first counselling has also contributed to vacant seats. This circular also points to a blind spot in higher academics with regard to the launching of new centres and disciplines
Bhaskar Ramamurthi, the director of IIT Madras, says an M Tech course in Nuclear Engineering at the institute was scrapped, not because it wasnt attractive, but it generated close to zero jobs for the graduates. "We scrapped the MTech course as hardly any job was coming the graduates way. The country's premier nuclear energy facility, Baba Atomic Research Centre (BARC), has their own courses in nuclear engineering and they do not need our graduates there. As there are no private players in the nuclear sector, our graduates were left in the lurch. We closed down last year,' he says.
However, Ramamurthi does not believe the IITs have fallen from grace. "Our undergraduate courses are still in high demand and all the seats get filled. Only a couple of post graduate courses are in the firing line," he adds. The MHRD circular will take a few courses like M Tech in structural engineering and environmental engineering from the IITM with it. "But, such weeding is something that we do regularly, assessing the workability of each courses," he says.