Anyone who had a connection with the engineering education in the state and was not tracking the developments over the last decade would be surprised to know that the number of engineering colleges in the state of Kerala has crossed the century mark and is inching towards 125. The number of seats has more than quadrupled from the 1999 figures. This has thrown open enormous opportunity to the student community for sure. But at the same time it has made making the right and informed choice a painstaking one.
Some parameters for comparison while making the choice of a college are – The management of the college, the number of years of existence, the public image of the college, the culture of the campus, the student quality, the fee structure, availability of the branch of your choice, the placement statistics, academic performance, the affiliated university, the faculty profile, ICT and library facilities, the physical infrastructure, recreational facilities, accessibility and commuting time. The weightage given to each of these parameters in college selection is very subjective. Many a times even though we may not actually analyse an institution separately on these parameters, the overall impression or feel that we have towards a college will have many of these factors embedded in it.
We shall elaborate and analyse colleges on a couple of these parameters here. Broadly speaking we can classify the engineering colleges in Kerala based on their managements into five categories. We have Government Engineering Colleges, Government Aided Engineering Colleges, Government Controlled Self Financing Colleges, Private Self Financing Colleges and the National Institute of Technology (NIT). We shall not look at NIT here as it falls in a different league altogether.
There are nine Government Engineering Colleges and three Government Aided Engineering Colleges in Kerala. The first engineering college in the state, College of Engineering Trivandrum started before independence in 1938. The youngest government engineering college came up in year 2000. In the case of government colleges we can see that it takes years to build the physical infrastructure and there is a strong correlation between the facilities available and the years of existence. In aided colleges the facilities available depends a lot on the individual management.
The third category is the Self Financing Colleges under government control. This includes 9 colleges under IHRD, 6 Colleges under Co Operative Academy of Professional Education, Colleges under LBS, KSRTC, Centre for Continuing Education and the Universities (Kerala, MG, Calicut, CUSAT and Kerala Agricultural University). The first engineering college to come up under this category was Model Engineering College that was established in 1989. The last college in this group came up in 2008. Here also a shrewd observer can notice a good correlation between the age of the college and the facilities even though there are a couple of exceptions.
The first private self financing college in the state was MES College of Engineering Kuttippuram that came up in 1994. The self financing wave struck the state in 2001 with 10 new colleges coming up that year. It reached the peak in 2002 when we had 28 new entries. We had a few more trickling in during the next couple of years. The second wave came in 2009-10. Twenty new engineering colleges started in 2009 and 12 new colleges came up in 2010. A couple more are likely to make it this year. Within the self financing group we have diverse kind of managements – colleges started by individuals, the ones started by group of professionals, the ones with NRI backing, the ones started by minority groups and the ones under the ambit of Kerala Catholic Engineering College Managements Association. The vision and the focus of the management is one key aspect that drives the direction that the college takes. This is evident from the fact that we have in this group ones that strive to be centres of excellence on one side and the ones that do nothing to come out of their mediocre existence on the other. Here we would not see a correlation between performance and age.
Another aspect that one needs to keep when we look at the colleges with respect to years of existence is that of the 120+ colleges that would admit students this year, more than a quarter of them will not have crucial parameters like academic performance of students or placement statistics for comparison because the first batch is yet to come out of these campuses. So in those cases one should look at the other parameters more diligently.