Now that the business of opening engineering colleges has been well entrenched and lot of money has flowed into this area, the question is how to get good returns. Since too many people jumped onto the bandwagon, we have a glut of engineering colleges. There is excess of supply in comparison to the demand. There is some opinion that there is demand, but due to the lack of quality of the supply there is lot of vacancies in jobs - or substandard recruitment.
Anyway, coming back to the profitability of the engineering colleges, the marketing and sales of the seats were initially pushed hard. Candidates were drawn from other states as well using incentives offered to existing students who bring in such candidates. There are some states, where parents have a view of paying high amounts and getting a degree for their wards. Hence, this is being tapped. But then, this is not sufficient to fill up all the seats available with the glut of colleges.
The next step was to attract more people by giving higher marks in their qualifying examinations. Children who usually got 70 or 80 were given 90s and hence indirectly induced to aspire for an engineering seat. Their parents were also enticed by the bigger picture of the IT and BPO sector employees earning high salaries right out of college. Still, this was not enough - as was seen in this year's engineering college admissions - about 70,000 vacant seats in Tamilnadu.
This evening, I heard on the news that a minister was giving a speech announcing 12 more engineering colleges to be opened. How are we going to put these into good use? Is there a plan for the government? Is there a practical vision / mission for these college management? Are the parents and children who are going to come out of schools in the coming years likely to get a good education that would lead to jobs?
Let us look at the effect of this education for the aspiring students and enticed parents. The quality of education in many engineering colleges are not great in transforming such students (those who have been given liberal marks). Hence, many of the students when they come out of such colleges, which cannot provide true education, with a degree, are not better off in comparison to what they would have learnt if they had not been to such colleges. Moreover, their parents' hard-earned money has now been spent with very little progress to show other than adding a degree to their resume. When they are turned down from many job interviews, it is too late and hits the whole family hard. The business has successfully taken out some hard earned money and given little in return in the colleges that lack the facilities / faculty.
What is the next step in this business? My friend from BITS days, Sreedharan, came up with a simple point. Next year they will introduce Financial Engineering in engineering colleges! What is the goal? The only goal will be to entice even Finance, Accountancy and Commerce students from schools into their colleges, now that they have invested heavily in these engineering colleges! The bigger the candidate pool, the chances of filling up the seats are higher. That would indeed be a master-stroke - the only fear being that it is likely to be true than fiction!