Quite often seats in professional courses lie vacant even after several rounds of seat allotment in the respective admission processes. Such a situation may indicate the reduced interest of admission seekers in the respective professional courses.
One may note the decline in the number of aspirants for the national-level examination titled JEE Main. The number of applicants hovering around 13 lakhs in 2014 has fallen to around 11.5 lakhs in 2018.
In spite of the reduction in the numbers of engineering aspirants, availability of seats shows the number of applicants is quite large as compared to the available seats. But the admission process comprising series of seat allotment rounds leaves some of the seats unfilled in technical courses. One of the reasons being multiple admission windows catering to different institutions with their independent admission schedules.
The overlapping admission schedules do not allow a candidate to independently choose the best option amongst available institutions following different admission processes due to no coherence in their schedules.
Admission timeline of respective institution admission process eventually pushes for freezing an option at the particular rank and forgoing the other available options through different admission processes progressing simultaneously. The phenomenon of non-filling of seats is quite prominent in case of the state-level admission processes catering to mediocre institutions in the respective state.
The admission process carried out by the stand-alone Institutions / small cluster of institutions allows them ample freedom in admitting students and their seats are usually filled up.
Under the situation of seats not getting filled by the prescribed admission process due to any reason, there occurs the loss of studying opportunity to some interested students in both public and private sector institutions.
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Lesser admissions meaning the reduction in receipts from fees is also accompanied with the challenge of survival due to the economic viability of the self-financed and private sector institutions which may not be perceived as a challenge in case of public sector institutions funded by taxpayers money.
However, in the case of public funded Institutions, it should be seen as the inadequate utilization of the available resources. The survival instinct of the self-financed and private sector Institutions compels them to open up for direct admissions at their level by assuring the bright future to eligible students following different alluring practices without assessing their interests and competence, which is akin to anyhow filling the seats by those who barely meet the eligibility requirements.
Such admissions in professional courses by students who may not have the requisite academic competence and inherent interest for pursuing the particular course leads to the creation of a liability upon the Institution/University, and quite often such students demand lowering of benchmarks to ease their way out with a degree certificate.
The induction of non-deserving candidates into any academic system without assessing the competence yields massive failures and these numbers add to the pool of unemployable professionals. Sometimes, the financial support offered by the government to certain section of the society also becomes a key driver in pulling students to study in the certain professional programme and thus ensure the viability of the institution.
Apart from technical courses, more or less the similar situation is also seen in the admissions to other professional courses and have varying reasons for seats lying vacant.
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In fact, on one hand the thresholds set by the admission tests do not consider the candidates exhibiting performance below the limit to be suitable for admission in respective programme while at the same time a large number of self-financed Institutions resort to different means and admit all kind of stuff in the similar degree programmes just for keeping the Institution surviving. Thus, there are two different set of students in any professional programme in the country, i.e. those who have been found suitable in the admission rigor and those who have not been found suitable but become part of the professional programme having same statutory status due to different admission windows available with the respective institution.
Ultimately, the total number of students undertaking professional programmes at any time will have stratification in terms of their acumen and competence resulting into huge variation in the quality of graduating professionals with varying professional capabilities and differing employability.
Therefore, the issue of the non-filling of seats in respective professional courses following the prescribed admission process needs thorough analysis and understanding to take an honest initiative to resolve this problem of seats being offered to suitable ones and not to be made available to anyone with the sole objective of just filling up the seats while ensuring proper utilisation of the resources.
Parallel progression of admission schedules of different admission processes should also be looked into so that the decision making is solely driven by merit held and not due to timeline. The programmes in which admission process demonstrates the number of aspirants to be less than the available seats in the respective programme should be viewed from the perspective of their worthiness in the prevailing quantity. Apart from the systemic reforms in admission process and associated issues, the improvement in quality of any educational programme will only help attract the best brain to pursue it.
(The writer is founder Vice-Chancellor of Madan Mohan Malaviya University of Technology, Gorakhpur, UP, the first non-affiliating technical University of the state. Currently, he is Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Harcourt Butler Technical University, Kanpur, UP)