A look at the rate of absence during engineering counselling this year paints a story similar to that of last year with over 50,000 seats expected to remain vacant. Last year, the figure was around 42,000.

Statistics for the first ten days of single window admissions at TNEA 2012 shows that roughly one-fifth of the students called for counselling remained absent. As on Friday, 45,977 students were called for counselling, of whom 36,019 students were allotted seats and 9,783 students, i.e. 21.28 per cent, were absent. Roughly, 700-odd students are absent on any day of counselling.

“…the absence rate is one to two per cent higher this year,” say Anna University officials. Last year, the number of seats available under government quota was 1.54 lakh of which 1.12 lakh seats were filled.

Surrender still on

This year, the number of seats available through single window counselling is 1.73 lakh. Self-financing institutions, which surrendered 14,000 seats before counselling started, continue to offer seats to be filled through government quota, fearing vacancies. The 32 new colleges will add to the vacancies.

“Even if 1.23 lakh seats are allotted, 50,000 seats will remain vacant. There is no doubt about it,” the Anna University officials say.

Usually, the rate of absence picks up after a fortnight of counselling. Last year, it rate from 21 per cent in the first 15 days to touch 41 per cent in the last days of counselling.

Determining factors

One of the reasons for the higher rate of absence is that the students buy application forms for TNEA even before the marks are obtained and thousands prefer to join under management quota after realising that their marks may not get them the desired seat in the college of their choice. Some others prefer to pursue basic sciences.

According to academics, lack of infrastructure, faculty, results and placement record of colleges play a key role in influencing students’ decision to join them or not. Student preference for lesser known and new colleges in remote, rural locations is low. The colleges preferred the least by the students will be known only at the last leg of counselling.

Interestingly, many students visiting the TNEA office prior and at the time of counselling ask the officials about placement records of colleges they are interested in. The officials are not supposed to provide the details and ask the students to check the websites and verify the placement record.

“Awareness among students is quite high,” says an official.