March 29, 2020
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Out Of Line, But On Course

Engineering colleges are brown with rust, medical seats are fiercely fought and unusual fields rise through the ranks. All these frame our rankings this year.

Out Of Line, But  On Course
Photograph by Sanjib Mukherjee
Out Of Line, But On Course

Indian professional education is clearly at the crossroads. Even a decade ago, technical courses like engineering, architecture and medicine had first preference and saw beelines outside their campuses. In the last two years though, the tables have turned. And now, there is a double whammy—students in a large way have rejected many colleges, some top ones among them, and the government is taking steps to close down colleges that have either not been able to fill up their seats or those who provide sub-standard education.

Last December, the HRD ministry was looking at closing down 300 private engineering colleges. Most of them had less than 30 per cent student enrolments in the last five years. Worse, over 150 such colleges struggled to fill even 20 per cent of their seats. Another 200-300 colleges were likely to wilt under the government’s glare for similar reasons—many would be asked to shut shop. In the previous two years, between 120 and 150 engineering colleges were shut down.

The problem is, while India currently has over 3,500 engineering colleges, a majority of them dish out dross as far as quality is concerned. Consequently, they have no takers.

In tandem with this, the interest of students in engineering colleges has diminished. The number of vacant seats in engineering across India has increased from 45 per cent two years ago to—unbelievably—over 50 per cent now. While most of these seats are in private colleges where quality of teaching is really poor, astoundingly, many students this year have refused to go to even the hallowed IITs despite having cleared the entrance tests. This, say experts, is because of the lack of availability of quality and well-paying jobs.

In medicine, on the contrary, things have become so tough that it is difficult for anyone who is not ranked among the top in entrance tests to get a seat without paying exorbitant fees. For example, in last year’s entrance, a top medical college shortlisted 440 students for 200 seats. All these students had secured between 99.9 and 99.6 per cent in the college’s entrance exam. This means even after scoring at least 99.6 per cent, 240 students would be rejected!

In this context, Outlook’s cover story on Oddball courses assumes great significance as increasingly, students look beyond conventional streams. The story looks at some of the new and unusual courses that gained in importance in recent times. These include alcohol technology, carpet technology and museology.

Outlook’s Professional Colleges Ranking 2018 predictably throws no surprises this year as the top colleges have maintained their pole position despite a marked improvement in many mid-level and private colleges. Thus, the Top 10 in most of the streams has minor or no change from last year. What is heartening is that we have had many new entrants to Outlook’s education universe, as many new colleges have entered the fray. Encouragingly, some of them have also found a place in the Top Colleges list. Going forward, things are expected to progress further in the coming years, though one of the problems we faced this year was the refusal by many top colleges to participate in the ranking because they received decent positions in the government’s NIRF ranking. Needless to say, Outlook will not compromise its standards, which have been set over the last decade and beyond.

The package also contains stories about how students from Kashmir are going to Bangladesh to study medicine instead of other states, how some top professionals have managed to nurture their artistic side despite their professional commitments and a profile of a person who uses music to cure psychiatric ailments. There is also an interview with the UGC chairman, in which he explains the constraints and difficulties that beset Indian education today.

This Outlook special issue extends a helping hand to students to look at all the options, evaluate them and then separate the wheat from the chaff. There are many choices, but it pays to take an informed look at all on offer. As we never tire of reiterating, choose wisely.


Top Engineering Colleges In Each Zone


  1. IIT Delhi
  2. IIT Kanpur
  3. Birla Institute of Technology & Science, Pilani
  4. Netaji Subhas Institute of Technology*, Delhi
  5. Delhi Technological University*
  6. IIIT Allahabad
  7. University Institute of Engineering, Chandigarh
  8. Thapar University, Patiala
  9. Guru Nanak Dev Engineering College, Ludhiana
  10. Zakir Husain College of Engineering & Technology,  Aligarh*


  1. NIT Mangalore
  2. College of Engineering, Guindy*, Chennai
  3. VIT University*, Vellore
  4. IIIT Hyderabad
  5. Manipal Institute of Technology, Manipal
  6. PSG College of Technology, Coimbatore
  7. M.S. Ramaiah Institute of Technology, Bangalore
  8. NIE Mysore
  9. University College of Engineering*, Hyderabad
  10. SSN College of Engineering, Kalavakkam


  1. IIT Bombay*, Mumbai
  2. College of Engineering, Pune
  3. VNIT Nagpur
  4. Institute of Technology, Ahmedabad
  5. D.J. Sanghvi College of Engineering, Mumbai
  6. NMIMS Mukesh Patel School of Technology, Mumbai
  7. Government College of Engineering, Amravati
  8. Symbiosis Institute of Technology, Pune
  9. Cummins College of ­Engineering for Women, Pune
  10. Bharati Vidyapeeth Univ, College of Engineering, Pune


  1. IIT Kharagpur*
  2. IIT (ISM), Dhanbad
  3. Birla Institute of Technology*, Ranchi
  4. BIT Sindri*, Dhanbad
  5. Rungta College of Engineering, Bhilai

* Latest available scores have been used for institutes that could not participate in the survey this year.

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