Don’t be surprised if you find a state-of-the-art gym in a college in a neck of the city that can hardly boast of taking the hi-tech way to fitness.
Or, if you suddenly find a 173-year-old campus getting itself an air-conditioned seminar room, equipped with the latest audio-visual gizmos. Or if you find another college, housed in a drab building, bringing out a prospectus that looks more like a corporate brochure.
The staid, stolid campuses of Calcutta, where Che and the biri are still the flavours of the canteen for many, suddenly look caught up in the throes of a revolution of a different sort. Driven by the prospect of a visit by a National Assessment and Accredition Council (NAAC) team to a few city colleges, these institutions are gearing up to present a prettier face, and much more, by the year-end.
Scottish Church College has learnt that the NAAC team may drop by in December 2003 or January 2004. “We are initiating these changes for the benefit of our students, but it cannot be denied that the NAAC team visit has certainly influenced the timing,” admitted Scottish Church principal John Abraham.
For starters, the college is working breathlessly on a state-of-the-art seminar room, visualised as one of the showpieces when the NAAC team comes a-calling. With projectors and computers and the latest audio-visual supplements, college officials say it is one of the most “exciting” changes that the college — where Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose came to study after being turned out of Presidency College for alleged “breach of discipline”— is seeing.
But the changes are not just cosmetic. They are making their way into the curriculum, too. “We are introducing two honours subjects, in computer science and microbiology, this year and plan to add, subject to a nod from the university, a Bachelor of Business Administration honours course from the next academic session,” added Abraham.
St Paul’s Cathedral Mission College, meanwhile, is planning to go ‘physical’. It is working on a gymnasium that will have all the facilities for students and teachers keen on staying fit.
Academics, too, are going to be influenced, given the computerisation of the library, scheduled to be completed this year. On the anvil is a networking of departments as well, but that will take a little more time, say officials. The toilets, too, are being “modernised”, lest the NAAC team checks out those too, but the college is more excited about the changes in its prospectus.
The prospectus, being designed like the corporate brochure of a multinational bank, has been “inspired” by the one brought out by Asutosh College, admit teachers. Both incorporate several features, including all-colour pages and words super-imposed on pictures, and are “radically different” from the drab, black-and-white (or, at best, single-colour) affairs brought out by most Calcutta colleges.
But the path to this new revolution is not going to be smooth, going by the college-vs-union fracas the prospectus has seen at St Paul’s. Bowing to pressure from the union, protesting the “commercialisation of education”, the college authorities have lowered the price from Rs 50 to Rs 42, say officials.