The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Colleges to separate toppers from boys

Durgapur, Aug. 4: The government will soon set up “lead colleges”, whose doors will only be open to meritorious students.

Higher education minister and chairman of the West Bengal Council of Higher Education Satyasadhan Chakraborty today described the move to open centres of excellence as a “very positive step”. “These colleges are very relevant in this era,” said Chakraborty.

Academics have attributed lack of adequate knowledge of English and updated science syllabi as the main reasons behind the mediocre results of meritorious students from the state in all-India competitive examinations and in higher education. Though late, the government has woken up to the reality and decided to act, said an educationist at Burdwan University.

Amit Mullik, the vice-chancellor, said: “The lead colleges will be set up in each district. But there is a possibility that there will be two in Burdwan — in Asansol and Burdwan.”

The concept of a lead college was introduced in the reports on education in the state filed by the Bhabotosh Dutta Committee and the Ashok Mitra Commission. The idea was recently revived by the government and discussed by the West Bengal Council of Higher Education. Several colleges across the state were identified as prospective lead colleges.

The University Grants Commission (UGC) and the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) have adopted the concept of identifying certain colleges as centres of excellence and providers of academic leadership.

These colleges are envisaged to have high academic standards, good infrastructure and a history of commendable performance. The government will assist the lead colleges achieve the required level of excellence. The colleges will have to work in coordination with the colleges belonging to their clusters and share responsibilities with the affiliating university.

Each college will teach all major subjects at the honours level and will not admit general course students. The colleges will also offer emerging subjects like electronics, mass communication, computer science, microbiology and information technology. They will take steps to better the teaching of English and its use through enrichment courses on communicative English and its use as the principal medium of instruction.

In the near future, the colleges will introduce post-graduate courses. Before being declared a lead college, an affiliated college will have to get itself assessed and accredited by the NAAC. These colleges will generate additional resources by readjustment of fee structure, better utilisation of infrastructure and raising funds through donations.

They will have to establish links with industry and financial organisations to provide expertise, train personnel and offer placements to students after graduation and post-graduation. The colleges will receive preferential treatment from the government in respect of grants.

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