Shortage fuels demand. India has only 50,000 registered architects as against the requirement of 500,000. Yet, there are few takers for this career.
"With the current growth of commercial spaces, malls and markets, we are just not producing enough architects," says Vijay Shrikrishna Sohoni, president, Council of Architecture, an apex body of professional architects set up by the Centre, and director of Delhi-based Vidya Vardhan's Institute of Design Environment & Architecture.
Of the 170 architectural colleges in India, the number of private colleges are five times higher than the government ones, which are just 20-23. The students intake is limited to 40-80 per school and each year around 3,000 architects pass out.
"In India, the ratio comes to 5,450 architects per 10 million population," says Mansingh Devadas, dean, School of Planning and Architecture, Anna University.
Students want quick money and are more inclined to jobs, which enable them to earn right after college, say experts. Whereas this profession requires a great practice before one can establish herself. For a beginner, the earnings could range between Rs 10,000 and Rs 15,000 a month in Tier-II and Tier-III and Rs 25,000- Rs 30,000 in metros. The experienced get to take home up to Rs 2 lakh per month.
"The architects are relatively underpaid when compared with IT and other professionals. Even the corporate and government undermine the value attached to the profession and pay only 3-4 percent of the estimated cost," says Shiva Leelanand, chief consultant - urban design, Associate of the Indian Institute of Architects, Hyderabad.
In the present scenario, the architecture profession needs a multi-pronged approach. People in the profession are also not full-fledged. They have taken it up as a parallel profession, points out Vijay Kishore, principal of city-based School of Planning and Architecture.
The reasons for this are quite obvious, says Kishore, as "Architecture as a subject is not introduced in the curriculum in most of the business schools. Most of them are either part of engineering colleges or is taught as one of the subjects in an engineering course."
For a five-year bachelors degree in Architecture, the course fee starts from Rs 15,000 per annum in government colleges and in private colleges, it varies from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 10 lakh as initial payment, depending on the reputation of the college, informs KS Anantha Krishna, principal and director of School of Architecture, RV College of Engineering, Bangalore.
Another factor is shortage of faculty. There is a 50 per cent shortage of faculty members across all architectural schools. India would require 15 more teachers for each school. Another issue is the lack of awareness among students about architecture, according to Devadas. Besides, architectural services are concentrated only in large cities, and are not percolating down to small towns and rural areas.
"It is not just the shortage of colleges, but also about the quality. The architecture education must need the profession, and not the other way round," insists Neerja Tiku, head, Department of Architecture, School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi.
Maharashtra has 52 colleges both private and government-run, Tamil Nadu has 32, Karnataka 26, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala each 8 while Puducherry and Bihar have two each.
In Andhra, 1,000 students appear for the entrance test for the 650 seats. The state has only 1,300 registered architects and would require 15,000 more in future, says Kishore.
"China has around 600-plus schools and produces around 120,000 architects per year, whereas India, produces only 3,000 per year. In order to catch up with the rest of the world, we need to produce more architects and more schools," Devadas states.
Things, however, seems to be gradually improving. This year, there has been an unprecedented growth in the number of seats in architecture across the country. The student intake has increased 10-fold in the last 10 years. "In view of the current requirement, the intake should increase by an average of 30-40 students for each school," he adds.