Polytechnics resent entrance exam system

CHENNAI, MAY 8. Managements of several self-financing polytechnics are miffed at the Education Department's decision to go ahead with conducting an entrance examination for polytechnic admissions this year.

The entrance examination and unified, single-window admission for polytechnics was introduced last year, in the lines of the procedure being followed for the past three years for engineering admissions. The entrance examination is to be held on May 14.

A main contention of the private managements is that last year about 20,000 of the 42,000 seats remained unfilled. They feel that appeal for polytechnic diploma courses has begun to wane. Hence, the entrance examination system is unnecessary as the whole process is redundant, says a spokesman for the Self- financing Polytechnics Association.

About three weeks ago, the Dravidar Kazhagam general secretary, Mr. K. Veeramani, urged the State Government not to conduct entrance examinations for polytechnics. Agreeing with this contention, managements note that Tamil Nadu had 215 polytechnics, most of them self-financing.

Last year's introduction of entrance examinations and single- window counselling system had only led to more problems. Hardly 25,000 applications were received for the over 42,000 seats available. Women formed a very small part of this number. Even among the applicants, only 80 per cent turned up for counselling. Many `payment seats' remained unfilled, as they had no takers.

In the past, students who wanted diploma courses preferred polytechnics nearer their home town or village. That was a time when there were more Government and aided institutes. With the growth in self-financing institutes, the fee structure has changed.

This is one of the main reasons for the waning allure for diploma courses. Today it seems the film-related and catering courses attract a larger number of students than other courses (compared to past years). The Government fee structure is around Rs. 5,000 for `free seats' and about Rs. 18,000 for the payment seats. The students hailing from middle and lower income groups, who mostly pursue diploma courses, find the fee structure for payment seats formidable. Even in free seats category, the students are not sure of getting admission in a polytechnic nearer home. ``They see no point in travelling to another district for a diploma course. They prefer to join more attractive computer-related courses,'' the spokesman notes.

Thus, last year the unfilled seats were mostly in the payment category. Which means, running a self-financing polytechnic by merely the free category seats has become unviable, he adds.