After a series of measures to check the exodus of students to other states — led by the opening of private engineering and medical institutions — the state government is now ready to upgrade Calcutta and other state-aided universities to attract meritorious students from beyond Bengal.
The government is considering the introduction of a system to reserve 15 per cent of campus seats for such outstation students. Now, only a nominal five per cent of the seats in post-graduate courses taught at Calcutta, Jadavpur and Rabindra Bharati universities are reserved for students from outside Bengal.
“Some of the post-graduate courses taught in Bengal’s universities are of extremely high standard. We need more meritorious students for further enrichment of those departments. In addition to the students we get from our own colleges, we will have to open more avenues for meritorious students from other states. And so, we are seriously thinking of increasing the quota of seats for them,” said Satyasadhan Chakraborty, higher education minister.
Development of other on-campus facilities, such as hostels with modern communication systems including easy Net access, libraries and games, are also being considered.
Suranjan Das, pro vice-chancellor (academic), Calcutta University, welcomed the move to invite more students from other states. ‘This will definitely contribute to the development of research, especially in social sciences. Our university now hardly gets students from other states in social sciences,” said Das.
The hike in the quota for outstation students is, however, likely to affect the city’s under-graduates, among whom the battle for a berth in the universities is intensifying every year. To compensate for this, the higher education minister says his government plans to open post-graduate courses in more colleges in the city and the districts. “We want to make the universities centres of high-standard learning, where meritorious students can be accommodated in larger numbers,” said Chakraborty.
In sharp contrast to the move to attract students from other states, the government is desperately trying to stem the brain drain to Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra. As a first step, it has opened a large number of private engineering colleges, and now plans to introduce new courses in emerging fields, like biotechnology.