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Home is where the college is

Students from Calcutta are no longer making a beeline for Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore or Pune after Class XII, admission trends this year show.

“Even till last year, around 25 per cent of our students used to seek admission in colleges in other cities.This year, not even 10 per cent have applied (for admission in institutions outside the city,” said Malini Bhagat, the principal of Mahadevi Birla Girls’ Higher Secondary School.

Bright students have always been leaving Calcutta for engineering, medical and other professional courses. What teachers were concerned about was the trend of even average students moving out to seek admission in colleges of the same standard as those they would have found in the city.

“We have not yet fully analysed the reasons for the sudden change in the trend. But a quick review of the situation has revealed that Calcutta University’s decision to make changes in its admission system — like calculating admission eligibility on the basis of marks scored in the best four subjects — might have encouraged CBSE students to stay back,” Bhagat said.

The university’s decision to treat students from all boards equally may also have prompted many to stay back, some school principals said.

Study opportunities in Calcutta have improved, too. “Students now have access to information and the fact that they are choosing to stay back in Calcutta indicates that better opportunities are being made available here,” said Krishna Damani of South Point.

Nearly 20-30 per cent of students from South Point and other reputable schools had sought entry into institutions elsewhere until last year.

“We don’t have the exact number of students applying for admission outside Calcutta this year, but we are sure that it is much less compared to previous years,” Damani said.

The desire to do job-oriented courses like mass communication, fashion and interior design, travel and tourism management, hospitality management and automobile engineering used to take hordes of students outside the city. These subjects are now taught in several city colleges.

“Private engineering colleges have introduced many of these courses, which is why students are not flocking to Bangalore like a few years ago. Moreover, the number of private colleges are increasing, and these institutions are also trying to maintain a certain standard because of competition,” the principal of MCKV Vidyapeeth, Dilip Bhattacharya, said.

Ritika Kejriwal, who wrote her Class XII exams from Mahadevi Birla and aggregated 92.25 per cent, said students like her were staying not because they did not have an alternative. “I want to study chartered accountancy while doing B.Com. The commerce wing of St Xavier’s is among the best in the country. So why should I leave?”

Suvraleena Bandyopadhyay, who topped the arts merit list of Future Foundation School with 95.25 per cent, is another of those to have placed their bets on Calcutta. She feels it will be a waste of resources to head to another city when Calcutta offers as many opportunities in her chosen subject as any other place.

Aparna Chaudhuri of Calcutta Girls’ High School scored 93.75 per cent, the highest in her class in arts. With her marks, she could have applied for admission to colleges like St Stephen’s and Lady Shri Ram in Delhi to study the subject of her choice, English. But her first preference is Calcutta, and the capital a distant second. “If one is looking for exposure and a cosmopolitan environment, Delhi is the place to head to, but Calcutta still has the best faculty,” she said.

This year’s ISC topper in Bengal, Saptarshi Bhattacharya of Salt Lake School, is open to the idea of sticking to hometown. “Why not? It has all the advantages.”

Asha Upadhyay, a teacher at St James School, said money, too, was a factor. “Students themselves are putting their foot down and dissuading parents from spending lakhs on their education in another state. Students are even coming back after studying for a year in Bangalore, saying it is not worth it.”

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