Calcutta University is set to start integrated courses from the next academic year in an attempt to stay ahead of its twin rivals from the city in the race to draw and retain the best brains.
University officials said physics, economics, mathematics, English literature and history were some of the subjects being considered for the five-year courses, spanning the undergraduate and postgraduate levels.
“We want to start the courses from the 2012-13 academic session. Students who have passed the Higher Secondary or equivalent exams will have to crack an admission test to gain entry into the integrated courses,” said vice-chancellor Suranjan Das. “The department heads have been asked to identify the subjects in which the courses can be offered.”
The vice-chancellor said the courses would be launched to draw the “brightest students” after their 10+2 exams, who would be “groomed by our teachers on our campuses”.
The biggest bane for Calcutta University over the years has been the flight of good students after graduation. For many, the master’s courses at Jadavpur University hold more appeal than the ones at CU. “With Presidency University deciding to offer integrated courses, the competition to draw and retain bright students has become stiffer. The new courses have been designed to survive the competition,” said a CU official.
Vice-chancellor Das, however, denied that the courses were being offered under pressure from the rivals. “We are not under threat from any institution. The UGC has been pressing for this model.”
Unlike students at the CU-affiliated colleges, those who enrol for the integrated courses will attend undergraduate classes on the university premises and be taught by teachers of the university. The curriculum, too, will be different from that followed in the conventional courses of the university.
“Compared with a college, the university campus obviously provides better faculty and academic infrastructure,” said Das.
The assurance of a berth at the postgraduate level, the university believes, will enable students to devote more time to their subjects. “Undergraduate students are now worried about making it to a university of repute for their postgraduation and spend precious time preparing for a series of entrance tests. The integrated course will help them focus entirely on their subjects for five years,” said a CU teacher.
But will the courses also guarantee automatic elevation of all students, irrespective of their academic performance, from the undergraduate to postgraduate classes? The vice-chancellor ruled out any such possibility. “We will introduce various safeguards to ensure students who fare poorly in the undergraduate exam are not allowed in postgraduate classes,” said Das.
A section of teachers, however, fears the existence of two parallel courses might lead to a caste system among the students. “CU has to be careful in its efforts to match up to JU and Presidency. It should not undermine the conventional undergraduate and postgraduate courses,” said a teacher.