Sujay Chakraborty has got through the West Bengal Joint Entrance Exam (WBJEE) but is ranked only in the high 2,000s (he refuses to disclose the exact figure). He has given up hope of securing admission to either Jadavpur University (JU) or Bengal Engineering Sciences University (Besu), Shibpur, Howrah, which undoubtedly top the list of institutes. But he wants to study electronics and telecom engineering at the best possible college.
I am doing as much research as possible so that I can choose the best one, says Chakraborty. He wants a list of top colleges in hand so that he knows which one to choose among the ones offered to him during counselling. All those who get through the WBJEE have to attend counselling where they are helped to choose the course and college most appropriate for them.
Among 1,10,000 candidates who appeared for WBJEE this year, nearly 40 per cent would qualify for the counselling, scheduled on July 5. At the time of counselling, students will be given the institute of their preference according to the merit list prepared by the states Central Engineering and Technology Selection Committee.
The top 300 rank holders in the WBJEE will probably get courses of their choice at JU or Besu — universally acknowledged as the top two engineering institutes in West Bengal. But how do students who have ranked lower decide which engineering college to choose?
Students have to look for four things — the infrastructure, faculty, courses and the placement record — in that order, says U.K. Shome, principal, Pathfinder Education Centre, a Calcutta-based coaching institute.
To lend students a helping hand, we try and list the top engineering colleges in the state. Rankings are based on a survey of top rankers in WBJEE, last years closing ranks for engineering and technological colleges of West Bengal indicated in the merit list, ranking by peers, the opinion of top coaching institutes, and details provided by engineering institutes on their placement and the mandatory disclosures as posted on their websites.
On these counts, JU is undoubtedly the topper because only students who managed to rank between 1 and 79 (the closing rank) last year were eligible for the coveted electronics and telecom engineering course. While JUs electronics and telecom engineering, electrical engineering (closing rank 294) and computer science engineering courses (closing rank 167) get top billing, Besu follows close behind.
I would have chosen JUs computer science and engineering course, as I know that it has one of the best faculties in country. I also rate Besu fairly high, although I am put off by the politics on campus, says Snehashis Chakraborty, the eight rank holder in WBJEE, who is eyeing a physics honours course at the Chennai Mathematical Institute.
Our greatest strength is the faculty. Almost everybody has a PhD and their research papers are published in some of the best journals in the world. The teacher-student relationship is also very good, says Anup Kumar Bandyopadhyay, professor and former head of the department of electrical engineering at JU.
Going by JUs placement record, it is one of the best in the country with almost 100 per cent placement, with some students commanding salaries of around Rs 8 lakh per annum in their first job.
After the IITs, top companies look to our university to recruit the right talent, says Bandyopadhyay.
Besu also scores very high on the list of WBJEE rank holders. We are a 164-year old institution, and that heritage in itself is something. But we have progressed with the changing times whether it is with the introduction of new courses or forging alliances with institutions around the world, says Manas Kumar Sanyal, head of training and placement, Besu.
Sanyal points out that except in the computer science department, Besu had a 100 per cent placement record last year. Unlike other universities, we dont allow third-year students to sit for placement exams. We want them to concentrate on studies, he says. Besu was a completely residential college but has thrown its doors open to day scholars in recent times.
JU and Besu have virtually remained untouched at the top for many decades now. But a few private institutions have built such a reputation in recent times that they can nurse dreams of dislodging these Goliaths, though maybe not in the near future.
One of them is the Institute of Engineering and Management (IEM), Calcutta. Established only a decade ago, it couldnt accommodate students who ranked below 1,600 in WBJEE last year. We had students who were ranked between 200 and 300, and who could have got admission to other top institutions, says Rajiv Lal, manager, planning and development, IEM. The most coveted courses at IEM are electronics and computer engineering, and computer science and engineering. IEM also claims 100 per cent placement.
The field gets fluid as we move further down. The race to fourth position is a very close one between Kalyani Government Engineering College and Jalpaiguri Government Engineering College. Proximity to Calcutta may be one of the factors why students prefer Kalyani to Jalpaiguri, but if we look at infrastructure, placement record and even the faculty, the latter comes out a clear favourite. Highly rated courses include mechanical engineering, and electronics and communications engineering.
Our placement record was 97 per cent last time, and we took in students ranked between 500 and 2,000 last year. Some of last years recruiters included Infosys, Convergys and Tata Consultancy Services, says J. Jhampati, principal. The National Board of Accreditation (NBA) has also accredited two of the colleges courses. Kalyani has had none of its courses accredited by the NBA though the computer science and engineering, and electronics and communication engineering courses are rated highly by some academics.
One great advantage with government-run institutions, such as the two listed above, is the fees. Students with a fairly good rank and who may not be in a position to bear the burden of fees in private colleges always opt for government colleges, not only because of the fees but also for the fairly good infrastructure, says Shome.
The Heritage Institute of Technology (HIT), Calcutta, is another private college that has made rapid strides in recent years. We have quite a few students who were ranked in the top 500 of last years WBJEE. Our greatest strength is our faculty and world-class infrastructure, says D.C. Ray, deputy director, HIT. Our students have earned gold medals for meritorious performance in the exams conducted by the West Bengal University of Technology (WBUT), says Ray.
The Government College of Engineering and Ceramic Technology (GCECT), Calcutta, is also popular among recruiters, especially for its ceramic technology students. Some even get annual packages as high as Rs 6-8 lakh. The college also offers a course in computer science and information technology. But that still doesnt qualify it for the seventh position.
Techno India in Salt Lake, Calcutta, offers a wider variety of courses with better infrastructure and faculty. Engineering courses in electronics and instrumentation, and food technology also make it a good fishing ground for recruiters. So GCECT has to settle for the eighth position.
The Asansol Engineering College, Asansol, with the reputation of providing a good grounding in core subjects like mechanical engineering, and a good computer science faculty and telecommunications courses, establishes itself in the ninth position. It is because of this that companies such as Wipro, Accenture, Tech Mahindra, Larsen & Toubro, Infosys and Mphasis have recruited its students in recent times.
The race for tenth position has institutions such as the Meghnad Saha Institute of Technology, Calcutta, Dr B.C. Roy Engineering College, Durgapur, Government College of Engineering and Textile Technology, Serampore and Netaji Subhash Engineering College, Calcutta, but the one that comes out on top is the Academy of Technology, Adisaptagram, Hooghly, not only because of its infrastructure and placement record but also the steady rise in the opening and closing rankings in the matrix and a growing reputation among students.
Shome says that preparing a top 10 list for engineering colleges, that too limited to West Bengal, is not without its risks. Many of the private colleges have put all their effort into only a few popular courses. Many government colleges offer basic courses like civil and mechanical engineering, and the facilities are comparable with the best. But since students do not prefer these courses, the colleges are low on popularity, he says.
Ultimately, a student has to decide where he or she has to study. But the one thing I would advise them to do is to do careful research. Go through the institutions record for the last few years and then take a call based on their ranking, says Sudipta Chaudhury of Aakash coaching institute, Calcutta.
1) Faculty of engineering and technology, Jadavpur University (www.jadavpur.edu)
2) Bengal Engineering and Science University, Shibpur, (www.becs.ac.in)
3) Institute of Engineering and Management, Calcutta (www.iemcal.com)
4) Jalpaiguri Government Engineering College, Jalpaiguri (www.jgec.org)
5) Kalyani Government Engineering College, Kalyani (www.kgec.ac.in)
6) Heritage Institute of Technology, Calcutta, (www.heritageit.edu)
7) Techno India, Salt Lake, Calcutta, (www.ticollege.org)
8) Government College of Engineering & Ceramic Technology, Calcutta, (www.gcect.ac.in)
9) Asansol Engineering College, Asansol (www.aecwb.net)
10) Academy of Technology, Adisaptagram, Hooghly (www.aot.edu.in)