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Xmas cheer for 2nd Xavier’s campus

St. Xavier’s College is set to celebrate Christmas by casting its dream of a new campus in stone.

Mamata Banerjee will lay the foundation of the Park Street institution’s Rajarhat campus on December 27 and the plan is to start construction immediately. There is still uncertainty over the larger goal of setting up a St. Xavier’s University, but the authorities apparently have a Plan B.

“If the university comes through, then the Rajarhat campus and the EM Bypass campus — together a total of 23 acres — will come under the university,” Father Felix Raj, principal of St. Xavier’s, told Metro.

St. Xavier’s has two options — one is to set up a St. Xavier’s University that it is discussing with the state government and the other is to upgrade St. Xavier’s College to a university under the Rashtriya Uchhatar Shiksha Abhiyan, as proposed by the Union ministry of human resource and development.

St. Xavier’s, the first college in Bengal to be granted autonomy, is negotiating with the state government on the university bill that it has proposed for a state-aided, private minority university. Felix Raj has raised the possibility of a public-private partnership and minority universities both at the state government-level and with the HRD ministry.

“For us, minority status is non-negotiable and the HRD ministry has been positive about it. But it has to be passed by Parliament or the Assembly for it to become a law,” Felix Raj said.

According to the Rashtriya Uchhatar Shiksha Abhiyan proposal, 45 autonomous colleges across the country are in line for university status. Each of these institutions will get Rs 105 crore for infrastructure along with aid from the Centre and the state at a 65:35 ratio for seven years.

If the proposal to the state government is approved, St. Xavier’s University, Calcutta, will be distinct from St. Xavier’s College.

In the event of the second option being implemented, St. Xavier’s College could be upgraded to a university with the proposed Rajarhat and EM Bypass campuses — the latter will be the communications hub — under it.

Whatever the fate of these proposals, the Rajarhat campus will come up according to schedule, the principal said.

The blueprint for the first phase, which will take three years to complete, includes the administrative building, a 12-storey academic block, residences of the vice-chancellor and faculty, and hostels for the students.

“I am thankful to the previous and present governments for helping us get till this point,” Felix Raj said.

The foundation ceremony on December 27 is being clubbed with the institution’s Christmas celebrations to enable the chief minister to attend both.

“The chief minister always wants to celebrate Christmas with St. Xavier’s; so we thought of clubbing the two together,” Felix Raj said.