For the first time in five years, mechanical engineering has emerged as the favourite among engineering aspirants as nearly 29, 319 have chosen the stream, followed by 27,082 who chose ECE and 18, 706 who opted for computer science and engineering.

With nearly 1.4 lakh students allotted engineering seats in over 500 colleges across the State, the general counselling of Tamil Nadu Engineering Admissions 2012 came to an end on Saturday.

This year, there are 15,000 more takers for engineering, compared to 2011. There were indeed many more seats than required here, and students had ample choice, much to the relief of those who had their counselling dates this week, the last of the counselling that lasted over a month.

S. Kumar, a parent from Salem, said he was uncertain whether to wait for a seat through counselling process or get through by paying donation. “Many of my sons’ friends did that, but I was hoping we would get through general counselling,” said the relieved father, proudly showcasing his admission document for a seat in SRS, Salem.

Many others had their share of problems. For instance, a candidate chose a college in Tiruvannamalai, not knowing it was facing legal problems. “They then told me that Anna University won’t be responsible if there is a legal issue. I was shocked. But thankfully, I reversed my decision and took another college,” he said.

“There are many vacant seats but most of these colleges are not the known ones. So we had to be extra careful,” said Rudran, another student, from Perambalur. Ajith Kumar, the last student to be allotted the engineering seat, got one in Anna University in Panruti.

As many as 55,813 engineering seats will go vacant this year, of which 55,168 are in self-financing colleges, and 644 in colleges under Anna University. “There is one vacant seat in the ST category in the textile technology,” said an Anna University official.

This year, the number of seats available through single window counselling was 1.73 lakh. Self-financing institutions surrendered 14,000 seats before counselling started.

“Last year, the allotment for 1.50 lakh students was done in 35 days; this year, the same task was accomplished in the same time for 1.24 lakh students. We hope all those who got in enjoy and learn something substantial in their course,” said V. Rhymend Uthariaraj, secretary, Tamil Nadu Engineering Admissions.

The officials expect the number to go up to 1. 26 lakh, with two more days — vocational phase II and supplementary counselling — scheduled on Sunday and Monday.