The AISHE report for 2019-20 confirms the earlier trends of decreasing enrolment in Engineering courses and the corresponding increase in other courses. While overall enrolment in both UG & PG courses increased by over 10% in the last five years, the enrolment in engineering courses fell by more than 10%.
In continuation of our previous stories on the All India Survey on Higher Education Survey (AISHE), we look at enrolment trends in important programmes at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels over the last 5 years.
The enrolment trends in undergraduate and postgraduate programmes reveal that engineering, which was once a sought-after course is witnessing a continuous decrease in enrolment to the extent that the enrolment is down by more than 13% for undergraduate and 34% for postgraduate programmes in the last 5 years.
Undergraduate enrolment declines in engineering courses and increases steeply in Science and Medical courses
According to AISHE Survey 2019-20, about 80% of students are enrolled in undergraduate level programmes, as elaborated in our previous story. This means that enrolment trends in undergraduate programmes represent an important trend in higher education in India.
Over the past 5 years, the trend in student enrolment at undergraduate programmes reveals the following:
- B.Tech. (Bachelor of Technology) and B.E. (Bachelor of Engineering) courses saw a decline in enrolment by 13%, followed by enrolment trends in B.A. (Bachelor of Arts) courses, which have remained stagnant but also saw a marginal decline of 1.7%.
- Enrolment in B.Ed. (Bachelor of Education) more than doubled over the last 5 years, as enrolment increased by 156% between 2015-16 and 2019-20.
- Enrolments in courses like B.B.A. (Bachelor of Business Administration), B.Pharm. (Bachelor of Pharmacy), M.B.B.S. (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery), and B.Sc. (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) increased substantially by around 51%, followed by L.L.B. (Bachelor of Law) at 32%.
- Enrolment in courses like B.Com. (Bachelor of Commerce), B.C.A. (Bachelor of Computer Applications) and B.Sc. (Bachelor of Science) showed a small increase of 7%, 9%, and 10%, respectively.
While enrolment in undergraduate engineering courses fell, programmes like B.B.A, M.B.B.S, B.Pharm., and B.Sc. saw their enrolment increase by more than 50%. The enrolment in B.Ed. more than doubled over the last 5 years and tops the list of courses in terms of increase in enrolment. Undergraduate programmes in law, commerce, computer, and science continues to attract student enrolments.
Postgraduate enrolment in engineering registers significant decline and continues to increase for Science and Commerce courses
According to the data released by AISHE Survey 2019-20, about 11% of students in higher education are enrolled in postgraduate courses. Over the past 5 years, the trend in student enrolment at postgraduate programmes reveals the following:
- Enrolment in M.Tech. (Master of Technology) declined significantly by 34% between 2015-16 and 2019-20.
- Enrolment in courses like M.Sc. (Master of Science) and M. Com. (Master of Commerce) increased by 30% and 23%, respectively.
- Enrolment in courses like M.B.A (Master of Business Administration) and M.A (Master of Arts) showed a small increase by 9% and 8%, respectively.
Students pursuing a master’s degree in engineering (M.Tech.) have decreased by 34% in the last five years alone, while students pursuing an undergraduate degree in engineering (B.Tech. and BE) fell by 13% in the same period. This slackening of interest in engineering comes at a time when student enrolment in higher education is at an all-time high of 38.5 million, as compared to 37.4 million the year before.
Waning popularity of engineering courses in India attributed to low demand and employability
The waning popularity of engineering courses also attributed to the reducing demand for these courses. One of the earlier stories elaborates how there has been a steep fall in the number of engineering institutes since 2015, amidst the All India Council for Technical Education’s (AICTE) decision of not approving new colleges for engineering from 2020 on account of more than half the engineering seats falling vacant every year. This recommendation to stop setting up new colleges from 2020 and review the creation of new capacity every two years after that was provided by a government committee, headed by IIT-Hyderabad chairman B V R Mohan Reddy.
The number of engineering institutes decreased in the North-West region (Delhi, Haryana Punjab, Rajasthan, etc.), South Central region (Andhra Pradesh & Telangana), and the Western region (Maharashtra & Goa). Meanwhile, in Eastern (West Bengal, Odisha, NE States, Jharkhand) and Northern regions (Uttar Pradesh, Bihar & Uttarakhand), there is a stark increase in the engineering institutes. The other regions witnessed only a slight decrease.
According to an AICTE report on Engineering Education in India, the low enrolment, low placements, and low employability of engineering graduates are causes for concern. The report recommends intervention and modifications to reforms the status of engineering education in the country.
The fifth edition of the National Employability Report 2019 by SHL finds that the employability of Indian engineers has not changed on an aggregate level since 2010. The report is a first of its kind in quantitatively exploring the reasons for low employability and makes detailed recommendations for change. The report compared the skills of Indian engineers with those in other countries and also looked into whether Indian engineers are acquiring new-age skills in areas like AI, mobile, cloud, and web. Some of the major highlights of the 2019 report are:
- Only 3.84% of engineers are employable in software-related jobs at start-ups.
- Around 3% of engineers possess new-age skills in areas such as AI, Machine Learning, Data Engineering and Mobile technologies. On an aggregate level, employability in these areas is around 1.5-1.7%.
- Only 40% of engineering graduates end up doing an internship and 36% do any projects beyond coursework.
Another report on State-Wise Employability of Engineers in India 2019 reveals that while engineering education in India has scaled over the last two decades producing over half a million engineering graduates annually, there has been a drop in the percentage of employability of engineers across different states for different sectors. The report also finds a correlation between the sheer number of engineering colleges in a state influences the percent employability of students in the state, establishing that opening more engineering colleges shall not solve the problem of the quality of engineers in the country.
All the numbers discussed above – reduction in enrolment and number of colleges, point towards the decreasing demand for engineering- which was once the most sought-after course in India. At the same time, there have been a significant increase in Science, Medical and Commerce courses.
Featured Image: AISHE Survey