A batch of former students who graduated from Jadavpur University’s civil engineering department in 1997 has decided to raise Rs 40 lakh that will go into buying computers and developing a smart conference room at their alma mater, which is reeling under a funds crunch.
The batch of 1997, which has four teachers from different IITs, has started the fundraising drive on the occasion of the silver jubilee of its graduation.
Last week, they bought the department 20 new computers for Rs 10 lakh, which they have raised till now, said a former student from the batch. The remaining amount will be spent on developing a smart conference room and supporting other infrastructure projects.
The university has also decided to create an alumni cell to tap former students for resource generation at a time when support from the state and central governments for infrastructure upgrade has declined.
“What started as a routine online chatting session during the lockdown translated into a fundraising drive as 85 students from the batch decided to observe the silver jubilee of their graduation with not only a reunion... but also by contributing to their alma mater. These include modernisation of the department’s computer lab and conversion of a classroom into a seminar hall,” said Sayan Gupta, one of the 85 former students.
A professor in the department of applied mechanics at IIT Madras, Gupta and batch mate Debraj Kundu visited JU’s civil engineering department in May to identify the areas that need improvement.
“We found many of the computers were old. I think there was an embargo on the purchase of computers from the government. The first phase (of help from the batch of 1997) was completed last week with the delivery of new computers,” said Gupta.
A member of JU’s finance committee had in March said the embargo was imposed as the university reported a deficit of Rs 15 crore under the non-salary head because of an inadequate grant from the state government, and waving of admission and examination fees as well as the expenses incurred for providing smartphones and data packs to students during the pandemic.
A JU official said that since the fiscal situation was still bad, contributions from former students would help in procuring computers and other expensive items bypassing the embargo.
“JU continues to impart quality education at a cost that is the cheapest in the world, and yet it continues to be one of the top universities in the NIRF (National Institutional Ranking framework).... With our support, which we expect to set a precedent, the university is sure to attain greater heights,” Kundu told The Telegraph.
JU ranked 4th among universities across the country, according to a list prepared by the Union education ministry as part of the NIRF ranking results announced in mid-July.
The university, however, failed to be among the top 10 in the engineering category. VC Suranjan Das said the institute needed funds to overhaul its infrastructure for better performance in engineering and science. “We aretrying to get in touch with former students for support. We have decided to start an alumni cell,” the VC said.