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Demand doubt over CU tech degree debut

Missing the technology bus has become the order of the day in Bengal. First, the government sows the seeds of an information technology (IT) revolution when other states are already reaping its benefits. And now, the education department is busy catching a boom when the heyday has passed.

Calcutta University (CU) has decided to set up a school at its Rajabazar Science College campus to offer an M. Tech degree in IT. Not just pedagogy, the “first institute of its kind in the state” will also be involved in advanced research in IT, claim officials.

The university’s syndicate, its highest policy-making body, has already approved the decision. Efforts are on to set the ball rolling by 2004, with financial assistance from the NRI alumni of CU.

“It will do a world of good to the university’s reputation. We will try and match international standards. We expect to attract the country’s best brains as there are not enough institutions in India that offer such a programme,” said Manab Kumar Sengupta, secretary, Rajabazar Science College.

An expert committee, set up by the university, is working out the fee structure, the curriculum and other details of the programme.

But the timing of this tech endeavour — and its nature — has raised eyebrows. “Who are they targeting' Those interested in higher studies go abroad or enrol with the IITs. There are hardly any takers for the programme in the handful of engineering colleges that offer M. Tech in IT down South,” observed an educationist.

Questions are also being raised on the rationale of kicking off the programme at a time when the job market is “depressed” for students passing out of engineering college with IT degrees.

“The counselling of the rank-holders in the state Joint Entrance Examination this year clearly revealed that students are shunning IT and preferring computer science,” added an expert. The decision, he added, would have made sense if the authorities — taking a leaf out of Kalyani University — had launched an M. Tech programme in computer sciences.

But the CU authorities remain bullish. College secretary Sengupta said IBM would extend assistance to the centre by providing state-of-the-art technology. “IBM has agreed to help us set up the centre and, in exchange, share the technology developed here,” explained Sengupta.

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