With drastic drop in polytechnic admissions, Tech Edu dept seeks revamp in admission policy

With drastic drop in polytechnic admissions, Tech Edu dept seeks revamp in admission policy
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Srinagar: Against an intake capacity of over 3,500 seats for three-year diploma courses at the 24 government polytechnic colleges in J&K a little over 1,500 seats- not even half the intake- could be filled in 2018, thus leaving a deficit of more than fifty percent at the institutions, a top official in the Technical Education Department told Kashmir Reader.
At Government Degree College, Poonch in Jammu division, not even a single student was enrolled against an intake capacity of 120 last year, added the official.
Back home in Kashmir, a meagre seven students turned up at Government Polytechnic College, Shopian last year against the intake capacity of 120.
It is not the first time for poor enrolment at polytechnic colleges.
As per figures with the Technical Education Department, occupancy at the polytechnic colleges (government and private) dwindled from over 72 percent in 2014 to a little over 39 percent in 2018, with the overall student enrolment at the colleges reducing by over 45 percent.
Against an enrolment of 4,187 at polytechnic colleges (including private ones) in 2014, only 2,268 students were enrolled last year, as per official data.
This year, despite extending the last date for filling the online forms for the Polytechnic Entrance Test (PET) 3 times, only 3,684 aspirants applied with the J&K Board of Professional Entrance Examinations (BOPEE), the board’s Controller Examinations, Prof B L Gupta informed Kashmir Reader.
Prof Gupta informed that 1,518 applications were received from Jammu, while 2,166 candidates applied from Srinagar.
Given the intake capacity of 5,765 seats at the institutions across the state, this means there will be still a deficit of roughly 40 percent even as all the applicants are likely to be selected.
A proposal sent by the Technical Education Department to the State Administrative Council (SAC) has blamed the “non-flexible admission policy” for the below par enrolment at the colleges over the years.
The department has proposed that the admission policy “needs revamping, so that the admission improves and the infrastructure in government polytechnics is optimally used and maximum students benefit out of it.”
“It would also give a flip to private polytechnics saving them from closure,” reads the memo to the SAC.
The proposed revamp includes: shifting the mandate of admission from BOPEE to the State Board of Technical Education (SBOTE) and individual colleges, reducing the eligibility criteria from present 40 percent to 35% marks in qualifying examination.
“The present system of conducting examination is a futile exercise as the whole infrastructure is being used to frame results for such number of seats where the number of applicants are far below the number of seats available,” the memo adds.
“In case the applicants are double the number of seats, the admissions shall be made through an entrance examination to be conducted by SBOTE,” it suggests.
The department has also proposed to shift the admission session for the colleges as class 10 students-potential aspirants for the polytechnic diploma courses- are either busy with their board examinations or already enrolled in class 11 at the time of filling of application forms for the courses.
A top official in the Technical Education Department partly blamed the Prime Minister’s Special Scholarship Scheme (PMSSS)-under which hundreds of students from the state move to outside states for various free education programmes-for the poor enrolment.
Director Technical Education, Dr Ravi Shanker Sharma told Kashmir Reader that the proposal was yet to be approved.
“It is still under consideration. There are legal issues involved because the BOPEE has its own act. It will require an amendment in the act,” Sharma said.
In case the proposal of open admission is approved by the government, Sharma said it will help the department to “decentralize” the admissions from BOPEE.
“Initially, there were 6 polytechnic colleges, but since 2012, there is a college in every district. The admission process is still centralized with BOPEE. Due to the cut off fixed by them, many candidates don’t make it to the list,” Sharma said.
To mention, in addition to the 24 government polytechnic colleges, there are seven private polytechnic colleges in the state. Two of the 24 government colleges operate from the Islamic University of Science and Technology (IUST), Awantipora and Baba Ghulam Shah Badshah University (BGSBU), which is in Rajouri.