Monday, September 16, 2013

Engineering education in Nepal-Engineering education has come a long way

Bharat Pradhan, a Bachelor in Engineering (BE) graduate from Pulchowk Engineering Campus, was always passionate about engineering. But that was not the only reason he pursued a career in engineering, while there were a number of other areas here he could have entered with his good grades in the higher secondary level. He always believed that a career in engineering could offer what no other profession could: “A door to a bigger world where opportunities are infinite”.

Now, with an engineering degree in hand, Pradhan thinks he was right in believing that engineering offers a plenty of job opportunities, superior remuneration, social prestige and personal and professional aspirations. “If you are not overtly ambitious, engineering will not disappoint you. There is considerable scope for graduates with mechanical, civil and computer engineering inside the country. Although the starting salary is nominal, those with experience are earning handsomely,” said Pradhan, whose specialises in civil engineering. Various factors like booming scope, lucrative remuneration and prestige have allured an ever-increasing number of Nepali students towards engineering. The unprecedented rise in the number of engineering colleges in Nepal and gradually growing enrolment of new students better reflect this fact. Official records show approximately 7,000 students get enrolled in engineering programmes in Nepal every year. The figure does not incorporate a large number of students who go to India or abroad for study.

According to the Nepal Engineering Council, there are 42 engineering colleges affiliated with Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu University, Pokhara University and Purbanchal University, currently operating in Nepal.

This is a great leap forward compared to some three decades ago, when just two colleges—Pulchowk Engineering Campus and Thapathali Engineering Campus—were only institutions to cater to demands of students.

“The current scale of engineering product is not being able to meet the demand of internal market as many go outside for further education and work. The scope is likely to expand by a significant margin once the industrial and infrastructural development takes pace,” said Rameshwor Rijal, principal of Kantipur Engineering College.

Colleges claim they have been able to impart engineering courses in the south Asian standards. The human resources and infrastructure in these institutions and their products are on par with international standards for graduate level. That’s the reason why Nepali products, to some extent, are able to compete with graduates of other countries while vying for overseas jobs.

Notwithstanding the growth and all these success, critics think the Nepali engineering sector still lags far behind compared to Western standards. There are a number of sectors where Nepal needs to concentrate on to give first-class education with lesser financial burden.

The modern engineering has surpassed traditional boundaries by offering solution to every kind of day-to-day problem, ranging from protecting the environment with plants and microbes to developing bio-fuel for cars and trucks. Despite being a multi-sectorial and diverse field, engineering colleges in Nepal have focused just on limited and often traditional areas of studies like civil, electrical, automobile, computer and mechanical engineering.

That’s why a large section of Nepali students are choosing countries like India, Germany and Norway over Nepal. Instead of increasing the number of colleges, the focus should be on incorporating newer areas of engineering. Colleges should offer newer courses at reasonable costs.

Domestic engineering colleges have not been able to meet the demands of prospective students fully. Students from private colleges said they are compelled to pay higher fees although most of the colleges lack sufficient practical education. At present, a student needs to pay around Rs 800,000 to complete the Bachelor in Engineering course. Those studying under quota, on the other hand, have to pay around Rs 300,000 for the four-year programme.

Though students claim that it is hard to get job in the market except for some who perform extraordinary, in examination, college owners say there are ample opportunities in and out side the country. “Nepali students have done well in most prestigious engineering colleges around the world and even average students are getting jobs inside the country. But it’s true that we have failed to link up the academia with the industry,” said Rijal. Records at Department of Foreign Employment (DoFE) says around 1,000 engineers are going to Qatar every year as the country is carrying out massive construction in the run up to the FIFA World Cup 2022.

source: The Kathmandu post,15 Sept 2013