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Premier Engineering Institutes to Promote Women Enrollment by Creating Supernumerary Seats

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IITs and NITS are promoting enrollment of female candidates after noticing a sharp fall in number female students taking admission in the colleges, over the years.

Engineering is one of the most popular career choices for youngsters in India. Thousands of candidates strive to get admission in premium engineering institutes of the country. This year 11.5 lakh candidates have applied for the nationwide engineering entrance JEE Main Examination scheduled to be conducted 8th April 2018. JEE Main Answer Key, to be published on the official website after successful completion of the examination will be the deciding factor for students to sit for JEE Advanced.

Although thousands of engineering aspirants manage to crack the examinations and get admission in IITs and NITs every year, a sharp decline in the enrolment of female candidates has been observed. The Ministry of Human Resource Development, took notice of the problem after the Press Trust of India reported an increase in the number of vacant seats even in the finest engineering institutes of the country since 2013, with 2014 being the only exception.

The HRD Ministry Committee set up in 2016, collected the data regarding the vacant seats in engineering colleges, which since 2013 is 274 out of which 15 in 2013, 5 in 2014, 39 in 2015, 96 in 2016 and 121 in 2017. The ministry set up a panel to focus on this issue and received several proposals to tackle the problem.

Joint Admission Board (JAB) suggested increasing the number of seats in all the 23 IITs to encourage the admission of female students after observing the lesser number of female students in premier engineering institutes. The proposal was accepted by the government and Dr. Satya Pal Singh, Minister of State of HRD declared in the parliament that 14% seats is targeted to be filled by female students in 2018-19 which was only 8% in 2016. This percentage is projected to increase to 17% in 2019-2020 and 20% in 2020-2021 by creating supernumerary seats.

Dr. Singh mentioned that University Grant Commission (UGC) has undertaken a number of schemes to encourage female education in the country. He was quoted saying, “The UGC is also implementing schemes for development of Women’s Studies in Indian Universities and Colleges, setting up of Women Hostels for Colleges and Universities, Capacity Building of Women Managers in Higher Education, Establishment of Day Care Centre in Central and State Universities”. He further stated that the All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE) has taken initiatives to attract female students to technical courses by allowing land norm relaxations and reduction in FDR and processing fees for institutes which are focused on providing technical education to women. He also mentioned about the Pragati Scholarship Scheme for girls studying in AICTE approved institutes.

According to an HRD official, the guidelines have been created to maintain a gender balance in the top engineering institutes of the country. He also pointed out that preparing for JEE requires tuitions from various private institutions which many female students are unable to access because of the remote locations and as a result their performances are affected.

Following the footsteps of the IITs, the 31 NITs of the country also decided to create extra seats to encourage enrolment of female students. The NITs also saw sharp fall in the percentage of girls applying for B.Tech courses in the institutes, from 22% in 2016 to 14% in 2017. The most significant decline has been noticed in the 14 older establishments at Suratkhal, Allahabad and Patna. NITs decided to follow the guidelines as recommended by the HRD Ministry to increase female enrolment to at least 14% this year to 17% in 2019-20 and 20% in 2020-21 by creating supernumerary seats.

Furthermore, it has been mentioned in the HRD directive that the number of seats for male candidates will not be reduced in the process of creating seats for women candidates, except in the case of deterioration in the performance of male candidates in JEE. According to the guidelines, if an institute succeeds to fill up 14% of their seats with female students, no supernumerary seats will be created.

IIEST Shibpur, West Bengal, has also decided to follow the HRD directives like the IITs and NITs to welcome more female candidates to the campus.

In terms of admission of girl students, NITs have performed better than the IITs. In 2017-18, 2440 girls took admission to the NITs compared to only 1100 to the IITs. In IITs, 4% seats have been reserved for women candidates in 2018, contributing to the cause. IITs are expecting 440 more female students than last year with the introduction of this quota.

According to the directives, constitutional reservations for SC/ST/OBC/PH will be same for the supernumerary seats.

The companies which recruit from the campus of these eminent engineering colleges have also welcomed this effort. “We will continue to engage with NITs to explore hiring opportunities for the top engineering talent from these institutes, especially women engineers,” mentioned Sayan Dutta, head of university relations, India, at Amazon, one of the top headhunters from NITs.

Jignesh Patel