No comparative analysis of colleges’ performances in Anna Univ’s list; ‘does not help decision-making’

Anna University may have released data on the academic performance of its 521 affiliated engineering colleges, but experts say this is not enough to help students make informed decisions.

On Thursday, a day before engineering admissions began, the university published the pass percentage of students in each of the colleges affiliated to it, in compliance with a Madras High Court order. The move was sought to impart more transparency to the admissions process.

However, experts said the results analysis is inadequate, because the data does not consider last year’s merger of the five Anna Universities of Technology with the main university in Chennai.

Engineering students now in their final and pre-final years would have taken their initial exams under the decentralised regional university system that would have produced better results, as the exams were much easier.

Besides, the data put up by the university, said experts, is not student-friendly. On the website, there is a dropbox with a list of colleges, and when a student chooses a college and clicks on the ‘send button,’ she gets a page that lists how students of the college performed last year.

But there is no comparative data to find out which college had the best performance. Each college has to be selected to find out its pass rates in individual semesters and to calculate its overall scores. The process has to be repeated for other colleges.

“On a particular page, I see that 34 per cent of third-semester students in a college cleared their exams, while 67 per cent of the eighth-semester students passed. Since these are different batches of students, the numbers don’t make any sense to me,” said Rohini Devanathan, an engineering aspirant. , who has a cut-off of 199.2 and chose PSG College of Technology recently.

“The colleges with the best pass rate seem to be those I have never heard of in Erode, Namakkal and Salem. I want to get into a college that offers the best placements,” she added.

What is also surprising is that there are only three private colleges from Chennai — SSN College of Engineering, Meenakshi Sundarajan Engineering College and Sairam Engineering College — ranked in the first 20. At least 60 colleges have a less than 20 per cent pass percentage, which students could avoid. Many of these colleges are around Tirunelveli, Kancheepuram, Kanyakumari, Vellore, Erode, and Villupuram.

At the most, the data can help students decide which colleges they must not go for, said experts. “The data will be helpful to students with relatively poor cut-offs to identify colleges with a decent pass rate,” said Saiprakash Leo Muthu, CEO, Sairam Group of Institutions.

The data is also misleading because there is no distinction between private colleges and government colleges. The latter have more difficult question papers and rigorous marking systems. An institution such as College of Engineering, Guindy may have a pass percentage of just 77 per cent, but five of its engineering branches were filled up completely in the first two days of counselling.

Also, the data shows that most colleges have poor results in the first few semesters but do remarkably well in the last semester.

“That is not because their performance improves but because the last semester consists of just two subjects and a project, and is usually a high-scoring semester. Students should not be misled by the eighth semester’s result,” said V. Jayaraman, an associate professor.

Experts uniformly agree that the university has failed to help first-generation learners who need guidance, as opposed to top scorers, especially those from cities, who would have already made their choice.

And the decision to go to a college is not entirely to do with the institution’s marks. For instance, only 12 of the top 40 colleges have counsellors on campus. Professors say a better way of ranking a college is to rate the exposure the institution provides to its students, the quality and experience levels of its faculty, the technical and cultural events it conducts and the job prospects it offers.

Deepa Narain, a counsellor with a private institution said, “Colleges with very good pass percentages have very strict testing methods and rote-based learning systems, with no focus on the students’ holistic development. This may not be good for the student’s growth.”