Barely 50 per cent of seats of Tamil-medium courses offered by engineering colleges have been filled

In spite of efforts by the State to promote Tamil in higher education, there are not many takers for the language-medium engineering courses.

Barely 50 per cent of seats of Tamil-medium courses offered by engineering colleges have been filled, leaving more than 700 seats out of 1,380 vacant.

This year, mechanical and civil engineering courses were preferred by students over IT-related courses during Anna University counselling leaving less than 20 per cent vacancies. However, when it came to Tamil-medium engineering seats, 385 of the 720 seats in mechanical engineering went vacant and 272 of the 660 seats in civil engineering were unfilled.

Engineering in Tamil medium was introduced in two streams — civil engineering and mechanical engineering — in the 2010-2011 academic year. “No batch has passed out yet and hence, no one is sure about the placement opportunities or the scope of the course,” said A. Manivasagham, a student from Tiruvallur, who said he had considered taking up mechanical engineering in Tamil.

“I thought studying in my mother tongue would be easier. But I decided against it after a senior student convinced me not to take a risk,” said Manivasagham.

Shortage of books

A student pursuing Tamil-medium engineering at Anna University said one of the challenges was the lack of engineering books in the language. Only photocopied material is available.

“Teachers take classes in both English and Tamil. Since over 60 per cent of the students in the English and Tamil engineering streams are from Tamil-medium schools, many of us find it difficult to cope in the initial years,” he said. “But I have asked my juniors from school to join the English-medium stream because it is better to study English,” he said.

The one advantage, however, of studying in Tamil is the option of writing exams in Tamil, said the student.

According to professors, when the Tamil streams were introduced, the demand was higher, with almost 40 per cent of the total number of aspirants, including top-scorers, opting for it.

“Now the cut-offs are as less as 150, almost 40 marks lower than the cut-off for English-medium courses,” said M. Narendran, a professor in a private college.

A major reason the Tamil courses were lucrative back then was because the government had assured the students of jobs. “Now, with a drop in the number of companies coming for placements, and the increasing requirements, students want to play it safe,” he said.

Students agree. While core companies may focus on testing the technical expertise of the students, placements in colleges here are dominated by IT companies that have aptitude tests testing students’ vocabulary. Interviews too, are almost entirely conducted in English, a student said.

“My seniors told me some companies do not let Tamil-medium students sit for their tests,” said R. Subramani, who has taken up mechanical engineering in Kancheepuram.