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Half in, half out in college tag race

Calcutta, May 9: Three of six colleges in the running from Bengal have been picked for the centre of excellence tag by the University Grants Commission.

All three institutions ' St Xavier’s College, Loreto College and Scottish Church College ' are run by Christian missionaries. In the first phase in 2004, the state-controlled Presidency College had bagged the honour.

Six colleges ' all affiliates of Calcutta University, including five in the city, and one in Hooghly ' were shortlisted in the second phase. The three that missed the bus are the Ramakrishna Mission-run Belur Vidyamandir College, the state-run Lady Brabourne College and Sreerampore College in Hooghly.

St Xavier’s has topped the list as it runs more post-graduate courses, compared with the two other selected colleges. St Xavier’s, which was given autonomous status last month, will benefit the most from the new honour as the college is likely to get about Rs 1 crore from the UGC as grant.

Loreto and Scottish Church are expected to get Rs 65 lakh each. The difference in the amount stems from the fact that though all three institutions have won recognition from the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) ' a key factor ' Loreto and Scottish Church are not autonomous like St Xavier’s. Presidency, which has neither, got around Rs 35 lakh on the strength of teaching standards.

UGC sources said from Delhi that Lady Brabourne lost the chance for not having the accreditation from the NAAC while Belur Vidyamandir was not chosen for not running the required numbers of post-graduate courses. Sreerampore College was bypassed because of lack of post-graduate teaching facilities.

“We are happy. We would have been happier if all six colleges had got it,” Suranjan Das, Calcutta University pro-vice chancellor, academic affairs, said.

The clock is ticking on the scheme under which colleges will be designated centres of excellence and given funds. The UGC has shortlisted 11 colleges in Bengal ' out of which four have been selected ' but the scheme will expire on March 31, 2007. The remaining seven stand to lose funds if they do not make the grade by then.

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