The government decision to admit students having 45 per cent marks in mathematics in Plus Two for B. Tech programmes in the new academic year is likely to worsen the already poor pass percentage in engineering colleges across the State.

Experts have warned that the standards of engineering education would be adversely affected in the coming years, thanks to the dilution in the norms for admission to B. Tech programmes.

K.P. P. Pillai, former Executive Secretary of Indian Society for Technical Education, said the quality of student intake would go down considerably following the decision to fix the eligibility criterion for mathematics in the Plus Two examination at 45 per cent.

“In a B. Tech programme, an aspirant is supposed to build up on maths skills acquired at Plus-Two level. Engineering students have to learn applied mechanics, which has lot of mathematics component, and engineering graphics that tests their conceptual ability. A poor student in maths will find it really tough to clear these papers,” he said.

M. Mahadevan, who had served as principal of the government engineering colleges in Kannur, Kottayam and Barton Hill in Thiruvananthapuram, pointed out that a student pursuing the higher secondary course in the State who got 180 out of 200 marks in continuous evaluation and for the practical examinations (taken together for physics, chemistry and mathematics) needed only 120 out of 400 marks in the written examinations to meet the eligibility criterion, which was 300 out of 600 till last year.

“With the minimum bar lowered to 45 per cent, the situation would turn worse. We should realise the fact that about 80 per cent of the higher secondary students in the maths group get 180 or more out of 200 in continuous evaluation and for the practical examinations. Out of the 120 in the written examinations, about 30 marks are obtained in the process of moderation. Actually a student who gets 90 out of 400 (22.5 per cent, without moderation) for the theory papers taken together is eligible to appear for the entrance examination,” he said.

Prof. Mahadevan said a student had to appear for 45 theory papers and 10 laboratory examinations for an engineering degree course. “The pass mark is 50 per cent comprising theory and sectional marks. If a student fails in all nine papers after the first year, he/she must join some other course, which is not as strenuous as engineering, he said. P.S. Sreejith, Principal of School of Engineering at Cochin University of Science and Technology, said the declining intake quality was a major reason for the poor pass percentage in engineering colleges. “For instance, there are several colleges where the pass percentage of B. Tech Information Technology course was less than 15 per cent in the final year,” he said.

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