Commerce beats engineering

Commerce beats engineering

Colleges see a fall in demand for BE seats. BCom is now the most preferred undergrad choice

‘3 Idiots’ was a Bollywood film that talked about how parents would do anything to make engineers of their sons.

It was once the most-in-demand undergraduate course in Bengaluru, but engineering has lost almost all its sheen. 

Colleges are desperate for admissions, and seats are routinely falling vacant. What led to this decline? 

Commerce preferred

Joshua Samuel, principal, Baldwin Methodist College, says BE courses have been on the decline for two to three years.

Many students are now turning towards BCom, BBA and BCA, ditching engineering and BSc courses. BBA is a business administration course, and BCA is about computer applications.

“We had to discontinue courses like BSc in microbiology, BE in electronics and even traditional BSc courses---with physics, chemistry and maths---because of reduced demand. Of all courses now, BCom is doing the best because it is a universal course and its applications are far and varied. The importance of computers has led to many enquiries for BCA,” he says.

Engineering colleges across the state are feeling the heat.

“We keep reading news reports about how thousands of engineering seats are lying vacant. The changing dynamics of the job market might be a reason for this,” he says.

Ready for offbeat careers 

C Prabhakar, director, Gopalan Group of Educational Institutions, says this year has seen more takers for engineering courses in computer science, electronics communication and aeronautics, over traditional options like mechanical and civil. 

“One of the reasons for this is that children are clear about the paths they want to follow. Unlike earlier generations, which just followed their parents‘ suggestions, kids today are ready to explore offbeat careers. They have many options too — both offline and online. Parents are more broad-minded too,” he says.

If a student is proficient in just one subject within a bouquet of science subjects, she can pursue just that subject. And in today’s startup age, passion is more than enough for success in any field, he says.

They ditch rat race

Prabhakar says herd mentality is on the way out.

“Sometimes children see a person who has done well in life and want to follow that path, but it might not work for them. And it is not always dependent on market trends either. Today the mechanical industry has gone down because of automation. So everyone is rushing to learn computers. But who knows what the situation will be in the next five years?” he wonders.

A good counsellor or mentor can help students understand what works for them, he says. 

No new colleges

With more than half of all engineering seats falling vacant every year, a government committee has advised the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) to stop giving approvals for new colleges from 2020, and also to review seat intake every two years after that.

Number of seats dips

For 2019-20, AICTE has approved 10 new engineering and three new diploma colleges in Karnataka, with a total intake of 11,418.

The number of engineering seats in the country is dipping, especially for mechanical and civil streams. Many institutions are withdrawing courses. Also, 4,240 institutions had applied for reduction of intake and the government has given its okay.

In all, 178 institutions are being closed across the country. Last year, in Karnataka, about 21,000 undergraduate engineering seats did not have any takers.

Seats remain vacant....

Only 10,000 students reported for counselling, although 50,000-plus seats were on offer in Karnataka this year. A little over 23,000 engineering seats remained vacant after the Common Entrance Test in 2018, according to an official.

Even after fees are slashed

In August 2018, not even one the 2,720 seats offered by 33 private engineering colleges was taken.

The Consortium of Medical Engineering and Dental Colleges of Karnataka (COMEDK) offered these seats at counselling sessions. A majority of the colleges are in North Karnataka.

COMEDK quota seats are more expensive than government seats, but many colleges slashed their fees when they found no takers. This led to seats being cheaper than government seats, but students were not impressed.