The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Vacant seats spark change

First, students from Bengal were rushing to other states to study engineering in private colleges because there were too few institutions — all government-run — within the state. Then, private colleges were allowed. And now, the seats are one too many.

So, the government plans to set aside 45 per cent of the seats for students from other states in private as well as state-controlled engineering institutions, including Jadavpur University and Shibpur Bengal Engineering College. If the decision is pushed through, it will mean a complete turnaround from the system existing, where 95 per cent of the 13,000 seats are reserved for students from Bengal and the rest for NRIs. Five years ago, the government imposed domicile restrictions on outside students.

Satyasadhan Chakraborty, higher education minister, claimed that the change of course was being attempted to improve academic standards. “The move is aimed at drawing meritorious students from other states. It will give an opportunity to our students to compare their abilities with students from other states and improve the academic standards of engineering institutions,” he said.

Senior teachers, however, see it as merely a ploy to fill up vacant seats. Under current plans, 50 per cent of the seats will be reserved for Bengal’s students, 45 per cent for students from other states and five per cent for NRIs. If the 45 per cent quota is not filled, applicants from Bengal will get a chance.

A section of teachers resents the move. “Seats in government-run institutions, like Jadavpur University and BE College, should be kept exclusively for students of Bengal. Seats in private colleges are not getting filled because of their poor academic standards and inferior infrastructure,” said a Jadavpur University teacher.

This group of teachers argues that if the government wants to attract students from other states, let private colleges be the receptacle. “It will be unfair to restrict opportunities for students of Bengal in good colleges here,” the teacher added.

Alok Das, member-secretary, state joint entrance board, said students from other states will get admission to colleges here through the same government-conducted joint entrance exam.

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