After being one of the top choices for Indian youth for decades, engineering as a field of study seems to be losing its luster. The number of students applying for the engineering entrance exam – JEE Main – has not reached 11 lakh for more than four years now. Even the prestigious IITs are slowly getting less attendance for their entrance exams. Students, despite being eligible for IIT entry, choose not to take JEE Advanced and prefer to go for an NIT, looking for their favorite subject.
Every year, the top 2.5 lakh rank holders of JEE Main are selected to appear for JEE Advanced. Since several students are given the same hand, the number of eligible students to take IIT admission is more than 2.5 lakh every year, but less than 1.8 lakh have appeared for the exam in the past seven years.
Experts believe that tougher competition and rising fees for coaching institutes deter students from taking high-stakes exams. Students who take JEE Main and qualify for JEE Advanced have a higher chance of securing a place at a top NIT and choose not to participate in the even tougher competition that sometimes sees them entering a tier-3 IIT . However, competition remains stiff for top colleges including IIT in Madras, Delhi and Bombay, especially for computer science and related courses.
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‘About 149 out of 150 students do not get a seat’
Former AICTE chairman Anil Sahasrabudhe said one of the possible reasons could be the high competition. Of the lakhs of students who apply, only 2.5 lakh can sit for JEE Advanced and it is filtered even more in the IIT entry stage.
“A possible reason for this could be that the number of applicants is so high that about 149 out of 150 students are not offered a place. These students spend so much time and money on coaching that the expenses are high. If a student knows that he/she is mediocre, they may not want to spend that much on coaching for JEE. They may be happy with state engineering colleges. They might think that if I have to go to a state-level college later, I’d better go for it beforehand. Why do exams at the national level?” said the recently retired AICTE chief.
JEE Topper says engineering is not a safe option
The lack of application or interest in IITs is not only an indicator of lack of merit, but also a lack of interest. JEE Main 2022 star, Parth Bhardwaj recently told news18.com that engineering as a career is not really a safe option, like ten years ago. Bhardwaj, who plans to choose UPSC CSE after his BTech, said: “Engineering is considered a safe option, but it is still not that safe in terms of career prospects and opportunities. About 30-40 lakh students have taken CBSE 12th and about 9 lakh have taken JEE Main. The number is still quite high in JEE I would say, but research has been done showing that about 80 percent of engineers in India are not suited for any job at all.
Students from low-income families, disadvantaged rural areas
Due to high competition, it is rare for a student to pass a national level exam without taking coaching classes. However, the high rate for the coaching classes is not affordable for everyone. While some deserving students get access to free coaching from state governments, most students from underprivileged families do not get access to such high-quality training.
However, coaching centers claim that they actually bridge a gap between school education and the ability needed to crack college entrance exams.
Experts believe that school-level education alone will never be enough for exams like JEE Advanced. “The exam pattern is completely different from what students learn in school. Most students competing for IITs need very good coaching to guide them. Especially for those of governments. These students find it difficult to sit exams at the national level, said Anup Raaj, co-founder of Instapreps by 7 Classes and an IIT Bombay alumnus.
Raaj, himself from a small town, said many students miss the opportunity to register for IIT admission because of such short notice of few days and online application only mode. “About 10-15 percent of students lost the opportunity this year due to the short term. Although it is very easy for students living in cities to register online, but also for students from towns and cities who have connection problems,” he said.
“About 20,000 to 30,000 more students could have completed the form if they had been given at least a week more time,” Raaj claims.
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