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Monday, June 21, 2010

Quality of Engineering Education

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The development of a nation depends largely on the technical education. Technical education in India has grown tremendously during the recent years. In India , there were only 426 engineering colleges in 1996, whereas the number has gone to about 1800 during the year 2007–08. The engineering education standards in India can been divided into three levels with Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)’s occupying the premier position followed by National Institute of Technology (NIT)’s and University colleges or University affiliated engineering colleges. Added to this, globalization had open up channels to engineers to work in more than one country and in countries other than where they received their education. This has led to great discussions and debates about the problems that arise from the various different standards, accreditation, recognition and diversity of engineering programs across the globe. These problems would not be an issue if all engineers after graduation would find work and remain making a living in their local countries; but the reality of the issue is that engineering has become a global profession due to the impact of globalization. This process may be restricted if engineering educators around the world do not address and resolve the differences of recognition and accreditation of engineering education that exist within and between countries. Therefore, establishing compatibility, comparability and the standardization of engineering education and training systems is essential to function and compete globally. 
A comparative review and analysis of the existing engineering education systems used in various countries worldwide shows that there are different laws, cultures, procedures and standards concerning the education and practice of engineering. Also, there exist significant differences in the development of curricula, structure of education, content materials, duration of courses and methods employed in the teaching/learning processes. Globalization therefore demands to close up the gap of the different educational standards and accreditation that exist between nations and provide for some form of standardization in engineering education. Worldwide, several strategies have been proposed for achieving the standardization. These include establishment of international accreditation of engineering educational programs, the recognition of academic equivalency between institutions, and reciprocal agreements between engineering licensing agencies, or development of a global engineering curriculum. Many higher education institutions are either discussing, or are in the process of making radical changes to the engineering educational systems. Some of the changes include modernizing, revamping and transforming educational materials and policies to meet the international standards, offering qualifications that are internationally recognized and produce graduates with global potentials. 

Quality of Engineering Education 
 The quality of engineering education depends on a wide range of factors. Engineering education needs to pay more attention to the development of innovation, entrepreneurship and the ability of its graduates to function in a constantly changing global environment. India has a large number of youth with strong math and science skills interested in engineering careers, but limited by inadequately trained faculty, poor facilities and limited research in a majority of its engineering colleges. Technical Education Quality Improvement Program, faculty training programs, infrastructure funding and many more programs aimed at improving the quality of engineering education were planned and implemented, but did not yield sufficient result. 
The education system must provide for accountability to the outside world and create accountability within the system. Accreditation plays an important role in promoting accountability. 

According to the regulatory agencies, accreditation signifies:
  • for the parents, it signifies that their child goes through a teaching-learning environment as per accepted good practices. 
  • for the students, it signifies that he has entered the portals of an institutions, which has the essential and desirable features of Quality Professional Education.
  • for the employers, it signifies that the students passing out has competence based on well grounded technical inputs.
  • for regulatory authority, it signifies that the institutional performance is based on assessment through a component body of quality assessors, with of Strengths and weaknesses emanating as a feedback for policy making.
  • for the institution, it signifies its strengths, weaknesses and opportunities for future growth. 
  • for the industry and infrastructure providers it signifies, identification of quality of institutional capabilities and Skills & Knowledge. 
  • for the country, it signifies confidence in the Suitability for sustaining stockpiles of market sensitive human capital and a pragmatic national development perspective. 
  • for the alumni, it signifies attachment through the pride of passing out with credentials.

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