Significant Decline in Engineering Aspirants in KPK
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Significant Decline in Engineering Aspirants in KPK

Decline in Engineering Aspirants in KPK

In a surprising turn of events, only 3,895 candidates participated in the latest entrance test conducted by the Educational Testing and Evaluation Agency (ETEA) for admission to engineering departments of public and private universities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. This figure is significantly lower than previous years, marking a concerning trend in the region.

ETEA’s annual entrance tests are critical for admissions into medical and engineering colleges and universities. However, this year’s participation marks a substantial decline compared to recent years. Notably, in 2023, 4,579 candidates took the test, while 6,800 participated in 2022, and more than 8,000 in 2021. The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the testing schedule in 2020, but the numbers were robust in 2019 and 2018, with over 11,000 and 15,000 candidates, respectively.

These statistics underscore a persistent decline in interest towards the engineering field over the past decade. Out of the 3,895 candidates who appeared in the test held yesterday, approximately 500 were successful. Given that public engineering universities and colleges in the province, including the University of Engineering and Technology (UET) Peshawar, have the capacity to admit 2,000 students annually, this year’s competition will be notably less fierce.

To understand the reasons behind this declining interest, Independent Urdu spoke with experts and university administrators. Dr Qaiser Ali, Vice Chancellor of UET Peshawar, noted that the decreased interest in engineering has been apparent since the COVID-19 pandemic. He highlighted a shift towards soft skills such as computer sciences, data sciences, and software engineering.

“This trend is not unique to Pakistan; it’s a global phenomenon,” Dr Qaiser Ali explained. “Limited job opportunities in traditional engineering fields are a significant factor, whereas programs based on industry-preferred skills are gaining priority.”

In response to these trends, UET Peshawar has introduced new programs in software engineering and interior design. Additionally, to boost enrollment, the university plans to conduct two entrance tests per year, providing more opportunities for students.

Dr. Khurram Shiraz, Director of Admissions at UET Peshawar, attributed the decline to the establishment of new engineering institutions, which has disrupted the supply-demand balance. He pointed out that a lack of significant industrial development and mega projects at the national level has limited job opportunities, contributing to unemployment among engineers.

“Young people are increasingly turning to freelancing by acquiring software skills, which impacts traditional engineering fields,” Dr. Khurram noted. “Moreover, economic uncertainty and poverty make higher education expenses daunting, leading students to prefer short-term courses and skills.”

Dr. Khurram also mentioned that the ongoing intermediate practical exams affected this year’s test turnout. However, he expressed optimism that the second test on July 28 would see increased participation from students who couldn’t prepare adequately for the first test. The university plans to increase seats in software and computer sciences to meet the growing demand.

The declining interest in engineering fields poses significant challenges for educational institutions in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. However, by adapting to changing trends and student preferences, universities like UET Peshawar aim to remain relevant and continue to attract aspiring engineers. As the educational landscape evolves, the focus on industry-relevant skills and flexible testing schedules may help reverse this downward trend and reignite passion for engineering among the youth.

Related: Education Sector in KP Grapples with Teacher Misplacements

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