Tuesday, June 14, 2011

New institutes in UP, Bihar keep the students at home

Till a decade ago, students finishing school in the cow belt of UP and Bihar, mostly migrated out of their home states to join better-quality, higher education institutes in other parts of India. For those wanting to pursue world-class engineering or management courses, except the some IITs (Indian Institutes of Technology), IIMs (Indian Institutes of Management) and a handful of government institutes, options were few.

There were almost no second and third-rung institutes. The students moved to Delhi, Mumbai, Pune or Bangalore, which are known for their management and engineering institutes, both in the government and the private sector. But now, with the advent of private institutes in UP and Bihar, which are also focussing on world class academic standards, students increasingly find options closer home.

"With several private institutes being set up in UP and the neighboring states, students from these regions find more options for their higher education," says Apoorva Palkar, Executive President of the Consortium of Management Education (COME), a body of 52 private institutions in Mumbai and Pune. She adds that students are increasingly choosing to study closer home provided the academic and placement standards are good. What this means for institutes in western and southern India, is that they now have to go out of their way to woo students from the cow belt. "This does not mean that students from UP, Bihar and other states in that region are not opting for institutes in Maharashtra," adds Palkar.

"But now institutes from Mumbai, Pune and such have to go the extra mile and market themselves and highlight their achievements to attract students from here. Obviously, with Pune and Mumbai being corporate hubs, even middle-rung institutes have handsome placement records, which helps." Many southern India-based institutes are also holding seminars and career camps in cities like Lucknow, Allahabad, Varanasi, Patna and Bhagalpur, to inform students about their facilities and academic record, and to try and convince them to apply.

Sharad Singh, CEO of the School of Management Sciences (SMS), which accepts about 900 students every year in its management and engineering programmes at campuses in Lucknow and Varanasi, says: "One can increasingly find the well-known south-based institutes vying with us to inform and counsel students about their colleges. With several good institutes coming up in the larger cities of UP and the Noida region, students now have an equally good option closer home. Having demonstrated good placements for the last several years at SMS, backed by good infrastructure and academic standards, we have also been able to win the trust of students."

Nikhil Sinha, Vice Chancellor at the Shiv Nadar University, which has recently been set up in Greater Noida with an investment of Rs. 1,000 crores (Rs. 10 billion), says that while theirs is a world-class institute which would seek to compete on merit with premier institutions of the world, the country needs many such institutes to cater to the large base of graduates and students passing out of school each year.

Particularly those who cannot make it to the premier institutes like the IITs and IIMs. Sinha adds that many institutes have come up in the Noida area which offer good education, and where students can hope to be placed in good jobs after there are done studying here. Several institutions like Amity and the India Institute of Planning and Management have now started establishing branches in tier-II cities, providing good faculty and placements, which is helping address the demand among students.

Needless to say, students from the region are happy about the profusion of academic options. Uttam Narain Singh , who did his graduation from his hometown of Jaunpur, in UP, says that he wanted to leave home to study in another city. But his parents were unwilling to send him to Delhi as they did not know anyone who could serve as a local guardian for the youngster. Singh chose to apply to Amity's branch in Lucknow, from where he has just graduated in engineering.

"I could not get admission into the Benaras Hindu University (BHU), which offers a reputed B.Tech. course," says Singh. "I also wanted to move out of my hometown Jaunpur, which is a small place, for better exposure and opportunities. Lucknow was a good choice that my parents and I settled on, so I sought admission in the Amity Institute there." Neha Kumari, who is from Giridih in Jharkhand, is a second-year student of B.Tech. at the School of Management Sciences in Lucknow. She says: "I took a conscious decision to study in Lucknow."

Source: The Economic Times, June 14, 2011

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