The Hyderabad-based Institute of Chartered Financial Analysts of India (ICFAI), that took off as a distance learning institute for budding financial analysts in the country, has come a long way since inception in 1984. One of its latest forays in the education sector was inspired by former President APJ Abdul Kalam who requested the ICFAI authorities to open campuses in the North East. While attending a convocation at ICFAI, Hyderabad, Kalam noticed a large number of students from the region donning the graduate cap. He was sore about the fact that most students in these states have to move away from home for higher education. “We explored the area and found a huge demand for quality education,” says J.J. Kawle, director, North East Universities, ICFAI. “Although the region had a very high literacy rate, there were hardly any private higher education institutes to cater to discerning students,” he adds.
ICFAI University Tripura is the first in the series of north eastern universities established in 2004 at Agartala. It is recognised by the apex bodies like the University Grants Commission (UGC), Bar Council of India (BCI) and National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE). The sprawling campus nestles among the wooded Kamalghat, 20 kilometres from the state capital. Still under construction, the university is coming up fast to accommodate students from the state as well as the rest of the country.
The university boasts of a colossal computer lab and classrooms equipped with LAN and Wi-Fi. It has a huge library with nearly 2,00,000 books, periodicals, and e-learning CDs. The well-equipped laboratories and workshops have novel tools that help students design their own experiments. “We don’t encourage students to copy or memorise a standard experiment, they need to be innovative and enterprising,” says R.K. Pattanayak, the vice-chancellor. “Further, we provide students the flexibility to choose their courses. For instance, an engineering student can opt for a biotechnology course. Bright students are allowed to graduate earlier,” he says. “Our emphasis is on practice rather than theory. Our students are tested for case studies in each subject,” adds S.P. Gupta, dean (academics).
The university offers bachelors degrees in technology (BTech), business administration (BBA), computer applications (BCA), science (BSc) and education (BEd). It offers an offbeat integrated degree in law and business administration (BBA-LLB). Students can also opt for masters degrees such as MBA and MCA. Recently, the university introduced a doctoral programme in management.
Admission is open to students from across the country. The course fee is Rs 21,500 per year for the four-year BTech course. MBA students have to pay Rs 1,25,000 per year for two years, while BEd students pay Rs 15,000 for a year’s course. Students from Tripura and other north eastern states get substantial concession on course fees.
To apply for BTech, students need at least 60 per cent in Plus Two with maths, physics and chemistry. Graduates from any discipline with at least 50 per cent can apply for MBA. However, both BTech and MBA aspirants have to clear a common entrance test. MCA aspirants need at least 50 per cent in graduation.
Most students come from Tripura and the north eastern states. Although the BTech course is not accredited by the All India Council For Technical Education (AICTE), strong industry-academia interface helps students get placements. “MBAs are hired by banks and other service industries proliferating in the Northeast,” says Pattanayak.
“I got a campus placement offer from an IT company. Later I shifted to a leading telecom company which is expanding its footprint in the region,” says Abhilash Borah from Guwahati who completed BTech in 2008. According to him, two internships arranged by the university helped him get his “dream job”. BEd students also get almost 100 per cent placement across schools in Tripura.
However, not all are happy with the infrastructure. “The institute does not have enough resources to enable students get proper jobs,”says Gourab Saha, an MBA in 2008, who got a job on his own.
Students also complain that there is hardly any social life. “There’s nothing to do in the evening. Also, there’s no proper place to go out to eat,” says a final-year MBA student.
“We’ve just begun walking,” says Kawle. “I don’t think students will have anything to complain about in a year.” Five more universities are being established in the north eastern states to fulfil Kalam’s vision for an “enlightened India”.
WHAT IS IT? A university from the Institute of Chartered Financial Analysts of India, (ICFAI), Hyderabad
WHO’S THE BOSS? Rabindra Kumar Pattanayak
Where is it? Kamalghat, West Tripura,
Home advantage for students in the Northeast, quaint campus
Infrastructure not developed yet, bad food, no hangout zones