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New St Xavier’s has eye on future

Siliguri, April 25: The first St Xavier’s College in north Bengal expects to meet the changing needs of nearly 9,000 students from Siliguri, Jalpaiguri and the rural hinterland of the two towns.

The college opens in July, initially functioning on a more modest scale with seven BA and BCom courses. Later, science and technology and management will be added to the bouquet, along with short-term professional courses.

Principal-designate Father Cherian Padiyara today said the campus would come up on 28 acres at Hati More in Rajganj , about 20 km from Siliguri and 26 km from Jalpaiguri off SH 12A, which connects the two urban centres.

“The college will serve the rural hinterland as well. We had conducted a survey and found that there was no college to cater to up to 9,000 students from that area,” said Father Cherian, who has been the provincial head of the Society of Jesus in north Bengal for the past seven years.

For the first year, the college will function from Jisu Niketan-Matri Bhavan at Matigara. “We will shift all the departments, including the administrative offices, to the new campus next year,” Father Cherian said.

Construction of the arts and humanities building at the new campus will start on April 30 with Bengal urban development minister Asok Bhattacharya unveiling the foundation plaque.

The courses being offered initially are BA (honours) in English, sociology and history (20 students each), BA (general) (50 students), BCom (honours) in accountancy and management (20 each) and BCom (general) (50 students). “We will later add science and technology, management and other streams according to the needs of north Bengal,” the principal said.

“Prospectus and application forms would be available from May 7,” he added. “We will conduct admission tests and interviews, besides keeping a cut-off mark of 55 per cent for the honours courses.”

The college will be affiliated to North Bengal University, the official sanction for which will come through by Friday. The higher education department has already issued its no-objection certificate, the principal said. “Eventually, we will go for autonomous status, like St Xavier’s Calcutta.”

The medium of instruction at the college would be English. “But to give equal opportunities to students with vernacular background, we will have a one-year course in our community college, where all aspects of English will be taught,” Father Cherian said.

Later, the language lab will offer courses in foreign languages. The community college would simultaneously provide short-term training in computers, travel and tourism and marketing and sales to enable students to take up jobs straightaway, the principal added.

Father Wilfred Lobo, who would be looking after the commerce section, said the fee structure was still being studied, taking into account all models, including self-financed institutions. “All we can say now is that this is not a commercial venture. The idea will be to keep the fees on the lower side and at the same time have adequate funds to maintain a good faculty.”

Father Cherian added that meritorious students from low income groups would not be turned away. “We will have some scholarships and subsidies for them,” he said.

Reservation of seats for SC/ST would be according to government norms, the principal added.

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