Rising star

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By Bhubaneswar compares well with the country's best cities in terms of education opportunities, writes V. Kumara Swamy
  • Published 21.05.09

In Bhubaneswar, if you see three buses plying on a road, it is quite possible that two of them belong to some educational institution,” says G.K. Nayak, director of the International Institute of Information Technology (IIIT). Not many will dispute Nayak’s assertion. In the last few years, the city has earned such repute as an educational destination that in many ways it is to eastern India what Pune is to western India — full of swank campuses buzzing with students.

Orissa may have less than half the population of West Bengal but boasts of almost the same number of degree-level technical institutions. According to the All India Council for Technical Education, while West Bengal has 71 engineering and technical institutions, Orissa has 68. That is the case for MBA, MCA and pharmacy institutes as well.

Also, when it comes to the number of proposals for new technical institutes (as on December 31, 2008), Orissa is miles ahead with 94 while West Bengal has just 35. And most of the institutions are set to come up in and around the capital, Bhubaneswar.

“Orissa, in general, and Bhubaneswar, in particular, have moved to a different league altogether. The state has been slow to begin, but within a few years we will have more all-India institutes than West Bengal,” says Prabir Pal, director, Regional College of Management (RCM).

Industry factor

So what makes Bhubaneswar so special?

“Orissa provides the right opportunities to those interested in setting up educational institutions, with Bhubaneswar offering the required infrastructure. As in the case of industry — which is coming up in a big way in the state, so is the education sector,” says Madhu Sudan Padhi, secretary, higher education, Orissa.

“If you look at the infrastructure of Bhubaneswar, it compares well with the best of cities in the country. Every part is well connected and transportation is not a problem at all,” says Pal.

“Perhaps the most important reason for the phenomenal rise of Bhubaneswar as an education hub is the growth in industry. Lead international players, including Arcelor Mittal, Posco, Sterlite, Tata Steel, Vedanta Aluminium, Infosys, Wipro and Tata Consultancy Services, have preferred to set up shop here. Acquisition of land and access to other resources is easier than in other cities. Above all, the state has a huge chunk of youths seeking professional education,” says Biswajeet Pattanayak, director, Asian School of Business Management (ASBM).

“The placement scenario in Orissa too has undergone considerable change with software majors like Infosys, Wipro and Satyam coming in search of candidates. This is because of the rise in the quality of education in the state,” explains Nayak.

The IIIT is mainly a postgraduate institute, but within the next five years it is set to become a one-stop institute for undergraduate studies as well. It will have a 23-acre residential campus, and its student strength will be in the range of 1,200-1,500.

Tech strides

The setting up of an Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Bhubaneswar has added greatly to its status. Around 935 acres of land have been set aside for the self-contained campus that hopes to host around 10,000 students and 1,100 faculty members.

The College of Engineering and Technology (CET) is considered among the top institutes, not just within the state but also the country. Besides BTech courses in seven disciplines, it offers MCA, MTech and degrees in architecture.

The Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology (KIIT) is another institution known for its engineering courses. The Institute of Technical Education and Research (ITER) has also made rapid progress in recent years. ITER is the flagship of the Siksha O Anusandhan (SOA) University. Other well- known institutes include the Silicon Institute of Technology and the C.V. Raman College of Engineering.

“Earlier, engineering aspirants would go to Kota to study for the IIT entrance exam. Now several reputed coaching institutes have opened their centres in Bhubaneswar,” says Param Brahma Mohapatra, a final-year student of the Xavier Institute of Management, Bhubaneswar (XIMB).

Despite the exponential growth in the number of engineering colleges, Orissa seems to be lagging behind in medical studies. The state has only three medical colleges, all government run. But the scene is gradually changing for the better.

In fact, there are plans to convert the V.V.S. Medical College, Burla, into an All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), which would be a big boost for medical education in the state.

The top medical colleges in and around Bhubaneswar include the S.C.B. Medical College, Cuttack, Sri Ram Chandra Bhanja Medical College, Cuttack, and Vigrabi Medical College, Bhubaneswar. The Institute of Medical Sciences of SOA University has also started offering MBBS courses since 2007-2008. Also, the Kalinga Institute of Medical Sciences under the KIIT University offers a medical degree. Bhubaneswar is also home to several dental, pharmacy, alternate medicine and nursing schools.

“There will be many more medical colleges in the coming years as the government is serious about increasing the number of medical professionals in the state,” observes Padhi.

B-schools galore

As for management education, Bhubaneswar has long been famous for the XIMB. But it is not just this institute that recruiters make a beeline for. The RCM, started around 25 years ago, regularly features in the top 50 list of B-schools in the country.

Management courses offered by the Institute of Business Administration and Training (Ibat), the department of business administration, Utkal University, ASBM and the Institute of Business and Computer Studies are much sought after.

For bachelor’s courses in sciences and liberal arts, Utkal University is considered one of the best in eastern India. The B.J.B. Autonomous College is also seen as a top-notch institute, as is the Rama Devi Women’s College. With the National Law University coming up in neighbouring Cuttack, law education in Orissa too will receive a boost.

Almost all institutes that have come up in recent times have huge campuses with great hostel facilities. It is also not a problem for students who want to stay outside campus.

“Unlike in other cities, in Bhubaneswar students can get rented houses at nominal rates,” says Niranjan Das, an Utkal University student. “One can also enjoy all types of food, north Indian, south Indian or Oriya,” says Das.