Mumbai: About a decade ago, engineering colleges across the country were falling over one another to pitch their information technology departments. Students queued up and companies lapped up virtually every graduate, making the new millennium the golden age for IT professionals.
In stark contrast today, a number of colleges are in the process of downing the shutters on their IT departments. According to startling data sourced from the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), the overseeing body for professional technical education, one in every three institutes offering this course has sent in an application seeking to close it. Close to 1,000 institutes have applied to AICTE to either close down their IT departments or convert the seats allotted for this to another discipline like mechanical or civil, said AICTE chairman S S Mantha.
Taken aback by the number of requests for closure, AICTE turned them all down and asked colleges to go to their respective state governments, get a no-objection certificate and supplement it with their application. Shutting down so many IT departments would have led to a skewed growth of other streams, added Mantha. Finally, only around six colleges managed to get an NOC from their affiliating university and state government. However, almost every institute plans on filing a closure application again for the 2011 academic session bringing the IT revolution to a pause if not a full stop.
While most colleges reasoned that this was a necessity, given the tough times they were facing, a mass closure of IT departments will translate into several other issues. What happens, for instance, to the hundreds of faculty teaching IT as well as the infrastructure set up for this stream? Experts were of the opinion that whatever the reasons for the decline in popularity of the IT stream, it was vital for technical education to advance in a scientific rather than whimsical manner.