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Quality of Engineering in India - Software Engineer vs. Professor

BY: Swati | Category: Education | Post Date: 2008-08-22

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Before the Indian economy opened up in 1992 there were not many Service, Industrial or Software jobs and students preferred to pursue for a higher engineering education degrees like M.Tech and PhD's. Becoming a college professor was not only prestigious but also came along with a respectable salary and many additional perks. In 1970 there were 139 engineering institutions, and only four were private. By year 2005 there were about 1,400 engineering institutions and only about 200 were government owned. In the last few years this number has jumped even more and since Indian government does not have enough resources to open too many of its own engineering colleges therefore private colleges have opened up everywhere. In the last decade or so, many industries like manufacturing and software have changed the attitude of most engineering students towards higher education.

Good professors typically hold a PhD or a M.Tech Degree which means they need to study for a longer time and their earnings start much later in life. On the other hand a software professional typically exits the education system holding just a B.Tech (or B.E.) degree and starts earning right away. The pain does not stop here, unfortunately the starting salaries offered to Software Engineers out paces about two times (or more) to that of a college professor / lecturer. Additionally not many Engineering institutes offer these higher educational degrees anyway. India produces about 1,000 engineering doctorates every year which is less than 1 percent of the total engineering graduates. In most countries PhD production is between 5 and 9 percent of the total number of graduates. According to Minister of State for Human Resource Development, there is an intake about 4.5 lakh Engineering students all over India (in year 2008). India awarded 2.3 lakh engineering degrees in 2006.

Not only more and more students want to quickly jump in the job stream and start earning, many of the existing professors have also left teaching and joined private companies for better salary and quality of life. Many colleges now recruit individuals with just bachelors degree to teach students in their campus ( That's awful but there is no other option anyway.). It is estimated that the IITs are currently understaffed by as much as 30 percent. Salaries of software engineers and college professors are more evenly matched in countries like the United States. A Merrill Lynch report from its Bombay office cites a study by McKinsey & Company, a global consultancy, that suggests 75-80 percent of India's graduates are not employable in the IT-enabled services industry, which could lead to a qualified labour shortage. Additionally with more and more candidates eager to enter the job market, many are willing to pay "donation" (a fee which lets you get an engineering seat even if you were not able to qualify for it by virtue of entrance exam). Individuals who are not so academically bright are also able to become engineers and many of the private engineering colleges lack proper infrastructure and academic staff. Class rooms can be often overcrowded, many of the substandard colleges in certain engineering branches are not able to fill up the seats anyway. Many private college owners in turn make huge amount of money from these "donations", which is usually multiple times of the regular tuition fees. Every year the Indian authority who overseas these colleges ( AICTE ), reduces and increases the seats in Engineering colleges based on several factors.

There is heavy government politics behind the expansion of engineering schools which makes the task even more complicated. One way is to increase the salary of professors to at least match with that of a regular software engineer, but that seems an impossible task at the moment as the salaries of these professors will have to be doubled or tippled. Therefore at the moment, there is no fix in sight, the last thing I want to see is the Indian Silicon valley crumbling because of lack of well qualified computer engineers.

In India getting into top premier institutes is extremely difficult and only the best of best are able to make their way into it. These institutes offer excellent infrastructure and trainning. This list was compiled by a leading magazine "India Today" in year 2006 and if you notice out of top 10, only one private engineering college makes it to the list, rest all are government controlled. I think only the top 50 to 100 Engineering colleges in India have good infrastructure and rest are still in the process of evolving towards a respectable quality of education.

1 IIT Kanpur
2 IIT Kharagpur
3 IIT Bombay
4 IIT Madras
5 IIT Delhi
6 BITS Pilani
7 IIT Roorkee
8 IT-BHU Varanasi
9 IIT Guwahati
10 College of Engg, Anna University

Indians are very hard working and they go through competition in every stage of life. If you live in a western country, you will never be able to co-relate what hard work means in Indian culture. India has 1.1 billion people and a huge middle class, therefore competition and hard work starts right from the early school level itself. There is no concrete social programs and people know that they have no choice except to work hard, additionally there are social pressures to excel in life.

On Aug 26 2008 - Prime minister Mr Manmohan Singh insisted on the importance of better higher education, he said
"Our government's effort has been to create the next big wave of investment in higher education and the 11th Five Year Plan, now under implementation, is basically a knowledge investment plan. We have significantly increased allocations to the education sector with a five-fold increase to an unprecedented Rs. 2,75,000 crore"

- www.csmonitor.com/2005/0713/p07s01-wosc.html
- indiatoday.digitaltoday.in
- www.saching.com/R-V-College-Of-Engineering-Bangalore.htm

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