With just about a month to go before he gets his degree, Jagadish.V, a student of College of Engineering Guindy, is feverishly charting his career graph.
“Two years ago, I would have wanted to pursue higher studies, but the moment I got the offer from Morgan Stanley, the thought just vanished.” With an annual package of over Rs.7 lakh, he says, “the job seems to be a mix of the right kind of exposure to both new places and managerial-technical work. The money is great, and the brand name says it all.”
Jagadish is one of the increasing numbers of engineering students who in the wake of a booming placement scenario have put aside plans of going abroad for further studies. Many engineering colleges in the city have reported a ‘lack of interest' among students to go abroad because of emerging opportunities within the country.
The situation is quite similar to that of 2007, when there was a huge surge in jobs. Even students who had given their GREs have now chosen to stay here as they have got enticing jobs, says Deepa Sreekanth, placement director, Meenakshi Sundararajan Engineering College.
Kala Vijayakumar, chairperson, SSN Engineering College, attributes the trend to an understanding between industry and educational institutions, which benefits students. “This year, most bulk recruiters allowed the selected students to appear for the core companies that came later. Students could be safe, and also try for jobs of their interest.” Additionally, with most colleges stressing extra-curricular activities, including tech fests and symposiums, bigger companies from international markets are reaching out to colleges other than the IITs and NITs, she adds.
Officials at Centre for Industry-University Collaboration, Anna University, say that over 75 ‘dream' companies and around 20 firms that recruited in bulk came this year. With an interesting mix of core companies and software firms, including big names such as Powergate, Saint Gobain, Symantech, Oracle, Caterpillar, Indian Oil Corporation, Microsoft and Google, the students this year have had more choices than ever before, says an official. While the number of jobs has increased significantly, even the salaries have gone up with most global IT companies paying around Rs.7 lakh to Rs.12 lakh annually, and most Indian companies around Rs.5 lakh.
While placement in a good company remains the priority for most students, a few still hold on to their dreams of higher education. “A four-year stint in a college with ill-equipped laboratories, and half-done projects and engineering lessons with inexperienced faculty – most of us take whatever jobs that come our way because we know we might not stand a chance otherwise. It is better we get equipped first,” says Raman.K, a student of a private engineering college, who plans to pursue his M.S. in Chicago this August.
“Many universities in the U.S. have announced new fellowships and about 20-40 per cent financial assistance to motivate and lure engineering graduates,” says C.Vijayalakshmi, educational advisor, United States-India Educational Foundation. “Nearly 20,000 students went to the United States last year, and this number is expected to rise with the markets picking up'', she adds. Since most companies have strict clauses that prevent students from taking the job in case they have immediate plans to go abroad, the students who have applied through the Foundation this year are ones focussed on pursuing higher studies. Hence, they have applied well in advance, without considering the prospects of jobs, Ms.Vijayalakshmi adds.
However, while many would cherish the opportunities that these graduates have here, experts have their share of reservations. This trend of trained technologists not going abroad to pursue research is a matter of concern because it will lead to a decline in the number of people who can contribute to training of future engineers or developing technology, says V.G. Idichandy, Deputy Director, IIT-Madras.
“Most of our faculty are our own alumni who have returned after education and work experience abroad. But we are increasingly losing that pool of talented people to high paying jobs and management schools,” he adds.