The Telegraph
| Thursday, June 12, 2014 |

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A new menu

Colleges are now offering an array of non-traditional, job-oriented courses. Moumita Chaudhuri, on what's on tap

College education is said to be the foundation of one's career. But till even a decade ago, most colleges offered only run-of-the mill courses. Few came up with innovative programmes that would provide students with the skills and tools necessary for gainful employment.

That's changing, thanks to the demands of the times. Traditional colleges are now going beyond their curriculum in an effort to better equip students. They are offering new courses in key areas such as animation, mass communications, multimedia, software development and foreign languages. Needless to say, these are being lapped up by students. What's more, the institutes help them get jobs via their placement cells.

In 2011, the ministry of human resource development launched the National Vocational Education Qualification Framework (NVEQF), which was implemented in polytechnics, engineering colleges and other colleges in 2012-2013. Following this, the University Grants Commission (UGC) introduced a scheme on skills development-based higher education.

Such initiatives are set to change the face of college education. Colleges across the country have begun a three-year bachelor of vocation (BVoc) degree from the 2014-2015 session, apart from offering diploma and advanced diploma programmes under the NVEQF. The BVoc programme incorporates specific job roles, which ensures that students get appropriate jobs after college.

Ashutosh College, Calcutta, is one of the institutes in West Bengal to have received UGC approval to teach this course. "We will be offering software development and industrial aquaculture and fisheries from the 2014-2015 academic session. The UGC has allotted Rs 1.85 crore for it," says Dipak Kumar Kar, principal of Ashutosh College.

The college will also offer diploma and advanced diploma courses in mobile communication and software development. "For these, the college has got an additional Rs 1.4 crore," adds Kar.

There are more exciting options to choose from. Derozio Memorial College, Calcutta, has on offer a BVoc in broadcast journalism and in printing as part of book publishing, while Belda College in West Midnapore has programmes on software development, and theatre and stagecraft. Mahishadal Girls' College in East Midnapore, on the other hand, will teach theatre arts and software development. One can also take up a diploma in food processing, enterprise management or hospital management at Bhatter College, West Midnapore, which is under Vidyasagar University.

While most of these colleges have only recently been selected by the UGC to offer such job-oriented programmes, Ashutosh College, with its training cell, has always been a step ahead. "We have worked continuously to make our students ready for the job market," stresses Kar. "We have had on offer a certificate course in export-import management, a one-year certificate course in management (assisted by Peerless), a one-year business management programme, a one-year marketing management programme (both affiliated to WBSCTE), a one-year travel and tourism management course, a diploma course in management of safety engineering (affiliated to WBSCTE), DOEACC CCC, -level, A-level, advanced DTP, Internet and web page designing, multimedia and 3D animation, as well as hardware engineering (accredited by the department of electronics, and recognised by AICTE)," he adds.

Vocational education has been part of Lady Brabourne College, Calcutta, too, for some time. "We offer a two-year diploma in computers and three-year courses in public relations and advertising, multimedia and animation, and food and drug safety. These courses are taught after college hours. And I am proud to say that all my students get appropriate placements," says Siuli Sarkar, principal, Lady Brabourne. The course in food safety, which is mainly taken up by students who have completed graduation in microbiology (honours), has helped them get jobs readily. "The Governor too had appreciated our efforts and was surprised that none of the students went without jobs," notes Sarkar. Among those that line up for campus recruitment are Wipro, the National Stock Exchange, the University of Sussex, British Council and media groups.

Loreto House, Calcutta, also has some self-financed courses which it calls enrichment courses. Public speaking courses are specifically designed to assist political science students. Students of human rights can opt for courses in human rights and empowerment. Calligraphy is taught to students of geography as this helps them in their project work, and would also be useful when they join industry.

These apart, Shri Shikshayatan in Calcutta offers a programme in industrial safety management, apart from six-month certificate and diploma courses in export-import management.

Similarly, Presidency University introduced a course in digital literature last year. "Mainly students of literature opt for it. Here, the students learn to make animations of literary texts," says Prabir Dasgupta, registrar, Presidency University. The course attracts students with a science background too. "Such courses make students more industry ready. And most colleges now have recruitment cells that organise campus interviews," he adds.