Shruti Mehta (name changed), an ISC examinee from a reputed missionary school in south Calcutta, will get her results on Saturday and set off for Mumbai the next day to chase her dream of studying at St Xavier’s Mumbai.
“I will also try colleges in Delhi, but I have no plans to pursue graduation in Calcutta,” said Shruti, who grew up in the city but is desperate to leave her hometown for better career prospects.
She is not alone, as many of her batchmates — now anxiously awaiting board results — have chalked out plans to leave Calcutta.
Students quitting Calcutta to pursue professional courses or postgraduation is not a new phenomenon, but what is bothering teachers is the desperation to relocate after Class XII.
“A small number of our boys — around five per cent — had always shifted to other cities for higher education. But these days, around 20 to 25 per cent of our school students are seeking admission in colleges in other cities,” said Terence Ireland, principal, St James School.
Not just the lure of professional courses, students are leaving for other cities — Bangalore, Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Pune, Hyderabad, Manipal — to pursue graduation in commerce and subjects like English, economics, psychology, sociology and international relations (see box).
There are 100-plus colleges in and around Calcutta, which can accommodate 100,000 of around 2.75 lakh students who clear the Class XII test.
The shortfall is not only in terms of quantity of available seats, quality of institutes is also a big concern.
“The scarcity of institutions like St Xavier’s, Presidency College and Jadavpur University is one of the major reasons behind the mass exodus. So, students are leaving for better colleges in other cities,” said Arundhuti Mukherjee, teacher, Gokhale Memorial Girls’ School.
Availability of contemporary professional courses is the other reason behind the brain drain. New-age courses on mass communication and media production, public relations, modelling, fashion designing or interior designing, travel and tourism management, hospitality management are attracting many students.
“We organise career-counselling courses for our students and have found 15 to 20 per cent of ISC examinees keen on pursuing conventional and non-conventional courses in other cities,” said Gillian Rosemary Hart, principal, Welland Gouldsmith School.
But shifting base does not necessarily yield results. “I know of students who came back as the colleges were not up to the mark. So, I suggest that students be very careful before moving out,” added Mukherjee.
The Calcutta University (CU) authorities are aware of the trend and are working on a “comprehensive policy” to increase the number of institutions of excellence.
“The existing number of good colleges is not sufficient to accommodate all the high performers and we need to upgrade the standards of our existing middle-order colleges. We also need to set up new institutions of excellence,” said Suranjan Das, pro vice-chancellor, academic affairs, CU.