Calcutta, March 2: In what looked like a step towards granting autonomy to the state-run Presidency College, the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government today announced its plan to develop Bengal’s finest undergraduate institution into a post-graduate one.
Higher education minister Satyasadhan Chakraborty said his department was examining various models for Presidency to turn into an institution capable of handling post-graduate courses.
“We are working on all possible options,” Chakraborty said, addressing the college’s zoology department that turned 50 this year.
“The college will have to evolve into a P-G institution if we want it to continue to retain its character and high standards.”
The state and Calcutta University, to which Presidency is affiliated, have had several rounds of talks on upgrading the college into a P-G institution, Chakraborty said. The university, he said, had started showing signs of coming round to the idea.
The Vice-Chancellor of Calcutta University, Ashish Kumar Banerjee, was present at today’s function. “We may seem to be taking time to open the P-G courses because of certain hurdles,” Chakraborty said.
“But we are determined to overcome all such hurdles and touch our goal, which is opening the post-graduate courses in Presidency.”
Though the minister did not say it in so many words, Calcutta University and various lobbies representing the teachers of the university, scientists and a section of the ruling CPM are considered some of the hurdles holding up development of P-G courses parallel to the undergraduate ones in Presidency.
“Our decision is final. Already there are seven P-G courses (in Presidency), and we hope to make the remaining departments offer master degree courses in the next few years,” Chakraborty said.
The lobbies opposed to Presidency offering masters courses or enjoying autonomy claim that not all of the college’s 16 departments are well equipped to handle the rigours of post-graduate teaching.
At the post-graduate level, quality teaching is driven by research, which they said was not fully available in many Presidency departments.
Judged in perspective, the Bhattacharjee government’s exercise to structure 16 post-graduate courses in Presidency — alongside existing undergraduate courses — has been prompted by the realisation that knowledge was a fast-growing business and foreign universities were setting up shop in the country pitching Indian institutions such as Presidency into stiff competition.
Equipped with quality faculty and strong infrastructure, Presidency now runs honours courses in 15 subjects and offers post-graduate courses in seven, including physics, applied economics, Hindi and zoology.