The Telegraph
Thursday , February 11 , 2010
Since 1st March, 1999
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Major exposure

It’s called the World’s Image Center, because of the dominance of employers such as the Eastman Kodak Company, Xerox Corporation, and Bausch and Lomb. It has other fancy names like Flour City and Flower City. Its proximity to Lake Ontario and the Niagara Falls makes it a great tourist attraction. And it’s one of the most livable cities in the US.

Welcome to Rochester, also home to some of the best research institutes in the country.

The University of Rochester (UR) has consistently been ranked in the top 40 in the US News & World Report rankings. This private university offers all the facilities of a large university, maintaining a small college environment with smaller classes and a 9:1 student-faculty ratio. The number of buildings on campus, by the way, is 158.

UR comprises six schools — the College of Arts, Sciences and Engineering; Eastman School of Music; School of Nursing; Simon Graduate School of Business Administration; Warner Graduate School of Education; and School of Medicine and Dentistry. In all, they offer more than 200 majors. In the past few years, new undergraduate programmes have been introduced. These are in financial economics, economics and business strategies, international relations, architecture, archaeology and engineering, bioethics, epidemiology, health, behaviour and society, and health policy. New offerings at the masters level cover technical entrepreneurship and management and alternative energy.

The university welcomes international students. “This year, 341 Indian students have enrolled, which is about 4.4 per cent of the total enrolment and 20 per cent of the international student strength,” says Jonathan Burdick, dean of admissions and financial aid.

So which are the subjects that attract Indian students? “Economics, medicine, life sciences, engineering, physics, computer science and business studies are popular with them,” says Burdick. For American students of Indian origin, biological sciences, engineering and physics are in demand.

Certificate programmes — such as in actuarial studies, literary translation, medphsyics, biotechnology, international relations and so on — may be taken during undergraduate studies. They are meant to supplement a student’s chosen area of study and formalise into a coherent, “whole” course. Most such programmes are interdepartmental. Graduate students work closely with faculty who are at the forefront of their fields, and have exceptional opportunities for interdisciplinary study.

There are numerous student organisations that allow youngsters to unwind and interact with each other, such as the debate teams, language clubs, a campus newspaper, a radio station and theatre groups. There are also religious associations for those who would like discussions on the Gita or break their Ramadan fast together. There are also regular church services at the university’s interfaith chapel.

Undergraduate students live on campus, while most graduates live in off-campus university buildings. The university provides transportation for trips to the nearby mall and grocery store.

Security on campus is tight, with cameras keeping vigil everywhere and all-night patrol. Emergency phones are fitted in several places so that students can reach the security cell directly, if needed.

Life’s really good, says Ananya Ray, who joined the College of Arts, Sciences and Engineering after completing Plus Two from the Calcutta International School. Ray will be graduating in May. What made her choose Rochester? A relatively small student body but good research opportunities. “I immediately felt at home. There is a fairly extensive Indian community at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. Groups such as the Association for Development of Interest in the Indian Subcontinent (Aditi) make life easier. There are also performing groups like UR Raas and UR Bhangra, which get a lot of support from both Indian and non-Indian communities. The International Services Office helps with concerns about living or working in New York as an international student,” says Ananya.

Mumbaikar Shweta Krishnan, a PhD scholar of pharmacology and cancer biology at Duke University, North Carolina, graduated from Rochester in 2008. She believes RU gave her the best possible training for graduate school. “From the in-depth classes to research opportunities, I was thoroughly groomed on how to think about and approach my subject,” she says.

Kaushik Chaudhuri, a founding member of Aditi in the ‘80s, fondly remembers the special orientation programme for international students. “I value the exposure to people from a broad spectrum of nationalities,” says the Calcutta-based IT consultant.

But not everything is rosy — the cost of studying at UR is high. For undergraduates, the estimated annual expense is $52,990 (Rs 22,26,000). The expenditure for a full-time graduate student would be the same, and for MBA programmes about $3,110 more. Candidates for PhD are funded through fellowships, assistantships and stipends. Every application is considered for merit scholarships from the university. Alternative student financing is available for international students. Many students work part-time on campus. These include jobs in the library, food services and call centres. International students may apply for jobs but have a restriction on the number of hours they can work depending on their visa status.

There’s another point to consider, says Kankana Mukhopadhyay, a Calcutta girl who is studying for a PhD at the Warner School. Winters are extremely cold and long with a lot of snow. “Be prepared for a great academic environment but a brutal winter,” she says.

What’s HOT

Small student-faculty ratio, variety of courses, free ride for PhD students, tight security

What’s NOT

Huge cost of undergraduate study, extreme cold


Undergraduate admissions:

Graduate admissions: gradstudies@mail.

Eastman School of Music: mccamman@esm.

Simon Graduate School of Business Administration: admissions@simon.

School of Medicine and Dentistry MD admissions: mdadmish@urmc.
Prize money
Scholarship amounts typically do not exceed $10,000 (Rs 4,20,000) a year.

Some awards

  • Dean’s Scholarships
  • Rochester International Scholarships, for non-US citizens
  • Renaissance & Global Scholars Program
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