AICTE reports that the average math performance of first-year engineering students is below 40%.
According to a study conducted by the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), first-year engineering students struggle with arithmetic more than any other major subject, a finding that highlights the country’s engineering education crisis.
The survey, which was conducted to assess the quality of technical training and identify study gaps influencing engineering graduates’ career chances, found that civil engineering college students were found to be the “lowest achievers” in “basic topics.”
The findings of the survey, which included 1.29 lakh students from 2,003 AICTE-approved institutes between September last year and June this year, show that the overwhelming majority of students’ struggles with math, which occur at the foundational learning stage in main lessons, goes unaddressed in the college education system.
The poll was conducted using the PARAKH online check, which was particularly built for this purpose. Aside from an intrinsic ability test at all levels, first-year college students were tested in physics, chemistry, and arithmetic, while second, third, and fourth-year college students were evaluated on proficiency in their area of specialization. The general ratings for third and fourth-year students also take into account their performance in emerging fields like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT).
According to the survey report, a review of the math, physics, and chemistry skill ranges of 22,725 first-year college students revealed that “greater attention is necessary for mathematical education in the engineering area.” “Across the math, physics, and chemistry streams, civil (engineering) is the lowest performing department. “The civil department has to put more emphasis on core topics,” it says.
Civil engineering students received a score of 37.48 percent, electronics and communication engineering (ECE) students received a score of 38.9 percent, mechanical engineering students received a score of 39.48 percent, electrical engineering students received a score of 40.02 percent, and laptop science engineering (CSE) students received a score of 40.12 percent (see field).
Electrical engineering college students performed best in physics, receiving a median score of 52.5 percent, followed by CSE college students with 51 percent, mechanical engineering college students with 50 percent, ECE college students with 48.8 percent, and civil engineering college students with 48.5 percent.
In chemistry, electrical engineering college students ranked first with a median score of 53.1 percent, followed by CSE college students with a score of 53 percent, civil engineering college students with a score of 51.3 percent, mechanical engineering college students with a score of 50.7 percent, and ECE college students with a score of 50.4 percent.
The overall report card shows that second-year college students performed the best, while third- and fourth-year college students showed a clear decline in performance. For example, in the case of civil engineering students, the average score went from 53.9 percent in the first year to 50.36 percent in the fourth year; in the case of CSE students, it dropped from 54.78 percent in the first year to 50.83 percent in the fourth year.
The aptitude test followed a similar pattern. In civil engineering, the aptitude check rating fell from 52.6 percent in the first year to 47.3 percent in the fourth year; in CSE, it fell from 54.4 percent to 50.6 percent.
According to the survey, college students gradually lose interest in aptitude-related areas such as fundamental statistics and logical thinking, which employers consider when recruiting.
The Internet of Things (IoT), AI, Data Science, Robotics, and Cyber Security are among the emerging fields that are gaining momentum among third and fourth-year engineering students, according to the poll.
There also seems to be a link between performance on the Class XII board examinations and performance in the classroom. College students who earned over 85 percent on their Class XII board examinations received, on average, 54.01 percent in PARAKH, compared to 41.11 percent for those who achieved 40–55 percent on their board exams in the second cohort.
The AICTE continues to be concerned about the employability of engineering graduates. According to information available to the regulator, 3.96 lakh of the 5.8 lakh college students who graduated in 2019-20 were placed on campus.
Previously, the AICTE admitted that a large number of empty seats in schools was one of the numerous factors contributing to a decline in the quality of engineering education, impacting students’ grades as well as their employment chances. The Indian Express published the results of its three-month investigation, “Devalued Degree,” in December 2017, which looked at the impact of over 51% of 15.5 lakh undergraduate seats in 3,291 engineering colleges remaining empty in 2016-17.
With a steady stream of engineering schools filing for closure since 2015-16, the total number of engineering college students enrolled at the undergraduate level in 2020–21 was 7.09 lakh, down from 9.66 lakh in 2012–13, reflecting a drop in accepted consumption due to a moratorium on new school openings. From a high of 17.05 lakh in 2014-15, consumption capacity declined to 12.52 lakh in 2021-22.
Based on enrollment numbers vs. consumption capacity, 45 percent of undergraduate seats remained unfilled in engineering schools in 2020–21 and 2019–20, 49 percent in 2018–19, and 50 percent in 2017–18.