Declining job prospects, unsuitable entrance test dates and difficult eligibility criteria — reasons galore for decreasing popularity of postgraduate courses

Private colleges across Tamil Nadu have failed to fulfil even 50 per cent of intake in MBA and MCA courses, this year.

While experts blamed it on declining job prospects, college officials said the vacancies were a result of the State advancing the dates for the entrance tests by a month.

“The number of applicants this year in every college was dismally low. Many students chose the courses during counselling but did not join,” said S. Aramugham, principal of a private college.

Heads of many colleges also blamed Anna University’s decision to hold the entrance test (Tancet) in April. “Candidates had not even completed their undergraduate exams then. Also, the exams in some universities coincided with the Tancet date, so many applicants missed the test,” said Mr. Aramugham.

K. Maran, director, management studies, Sairam Group of Institutions, said the numbers reflected the informed decisions made by many students.

“Several good colleges have managed to fill up many seats. In some, there are hardly any vacancies. In the coming years, only the best colleges will be able to offer these courses successfully,” he said.

Last year, over 20 colleges wrote to the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) asking for MCA courses to be discontinued. “This year, their numbers might increase, considering the nearly 20 per cent rise in vacancies. Seats in computer engineering may be increased and resources from MCA courses redirected there, as there is a lot of demand for the stream,” Prof. Maran said.

The AICTE mandate that only students who had studied Mathematics at the higher secondary-level would be eligible to enrol for the course was also responsible for the reduced numbers, experts said.

Colleges in rural areas seem to be the worst hit, with over 70 per cent vacancies, this year, in at least 32 of the 79 institutes offering the postgraduate courses.

The decline in numbers had begun as early as in 2010, mostly due to poor employability of MBA/MCA graduates.

“Many companies such as Deloitte and Accenture have started recruiting engineering graduates directly. Even HR companies increasingly prefer candidates with an MA in social work or psychology instead of an MBA,” said R. Kumar, a professor at Bharathiyar University.

The pay packet of MBA graduates from top-notch engineering colleges had also been hit, with the average package being less than Rs 4.5 lakh.