Mumbai: A trend reversal seems to be underway in postgraduate technical degrees. Once sought-after courses for engineering graduates, the number of vacancies in Masters of Engineering (ME/MTech) has remained at 60-65% over the past three years. Figures released by the state’s Common Entrance Test (CET) cell reveal that nearly 70% of places in these courses had no applicants in the 2021-22 academic year, meaning that 7 out of 10 seats remained vacant statewide.
Experts attributed the decline to several reasons, including the lack of jobs for ME/MTech graduates and the lack of curriculum updates.
“ME/MTech graduates have realized that their skills remain almost similar to undergraduate engineering courses, even after completing a 2-year PG course. Students now prefer to gain work experience and then apply to a B school for a Master of Business Administration (MBA) program in hopes of improving their resumes, thereby attracting better job offers,” said said the director of a city-based engineering. institute.
The hiring trend across industries has also played a significant role in lowering demand for MTech courses, experts said. “Most of the companies prefer a BTech graduate to an MTech graduate as their skills are not much different and BTech graduates are willing to work for lower salary,” said SS Mantha, Former Chairman of All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE ).
Also, more and more companies are looking for graduates with knowledge beyond engineering, so many are opting for BTech with a master’s degree in business or finance in hopes of better job opportunities, Mantha added.
In recent years, several engineering institutes in Maharashtra have closed down some divisions or the ME/MTech course due to lower demand. This year, while the admission for BE/BTech was 1.39 lakh, the total admission for ME/MTech was only 13,095, less than 10% of the total places in the course undergraduate.
“The Masters in Engineering has been a chosen course for those looking to get into teaching. However, the engineering institutes have stagnated and hence the hiring of new teachers has also declined over the years. Many institutions including ours have completely dropped out of the course due to declining enrolments,” said Gopakumaran Thampi, Principal, Thadomal Shahani Engineering College, Bandra.
Internships at undergraduate engineering institutes across the country ended on a high note this academic year with a higher number of students getting internships with better packages compared to the past two years. However, the trend is not reflected in ME/MTech investments.
According to figures shared on the AICTE website, internships for ME/MTech accounted for 24.27% of total enrollment in the 2020-21 academic year.
Talent acquisition experts say that over the years, employers have stopped mentioning ME/MTech as an eligibility criteria in job descriptions.
“It is very rare for employers to look for graduate students in MTech as many have realized that the study programs for BTech and MTech are not very different, so they would prefer to hire postgraduate students in management fields and finance,” said Ratna Pathak, talent acquisition specialist.
Experts also believe that it is time to update the engineering curriculum with specializations in mind. “Authorities have introduced new concepts like artificial intelligence and data science in undergraduate engineering courses, but basic concepts of several forms of engineering seem to be missing from the curriculum. Instead of just adding new subjects, we need to focus on the overall development of the existing curriculum for UG and PG engineering courses which will eventually attract more students,” added the former AICTE President, Mantha.