Worried at reports of engineering and information technology (IT) graduates failing in job interviews, Calcutta University, acting on a state government prod, has decided to start a new course exclusively for improving the ability to communicate in English.
The university move comes in the wake of the government’s realisation that large numbers of high-performing IT and engineering graduates from Bengal, particularly those who study in state-aided Bengali-medium schools, where English is not taught from Class I, are failing to land top jobs in big companies. Competitors from other states, in spite of poor academic records, are beating them at interviews, only because they speak better English.
The government convened a meeting last week with vice-chancellors of all universities, seeking suggestions on ways of improving communicative skills in English. The meeting was also attended by state IT minister Manab Mukherjee, higher education minister Satyasadhan Chakraborty and senior officials of the West Bengal Higher Education Council.
“The government has accepted our suggestion to introduce a new course in communicative English for engineers and we will see that the course is launched immediately,” said Suranjan Das, Calcutta University pro vice-chancellor (academic). The government nod is expected at a meeting slated for this week.
Nirmalya Banerjee, member-secretary, West Bengal Higher Education Council, said the vice-chancellors of other universities who attended last week’s meeting have also been asked for their proposals. Sources in the education department said studies conducted by the government have revealed that with the opening of nearly 40 new private engineering institutions in the state over the past few years, the number of engineering seats has increased to nearly 13,000. A large number of students graduating from these institutions, as well as from the government-controlled ones like Jadavpur University and Shibpur Bengal Engineering College (Deemed University), are unable to land jobs in multinational companies because of their poor skills in English.
Das said the “syllabus will be designed to cover all aspects that a young interviewee graduate engineer may have to discuss with interviewers…We will teach them how to present themselves in an interview and how to participate in group discussions.” The duration of the course is likely to be six months. The fees, to be fixed after the government nod, are likely to be on the higher side.