Value addition

Published : Jul 17, 2009 00:00 IST

THE University Students Advisory Bureau (USAB), which is celebrating its centenary this year, has guided thousands of students of the University of Madras. It helps students choose courses of study and the scholarships that they can win. It provides them with information on studying abroad and arranges interviews with prospective employers. It also organises INFORMEX, an exhibition on careers, every year. Established in 1909, the USABs primary objectives are to counsel students on academic matters and guide them on career opportunities.

According to A Profile, published by the university on the history of the USAB, students of the early 1900s had to interact with the USAB if they wanted to study at universities in the United Kingdom or take the Indian Civil Services examination. The USAB secretary screened applications and recommended suitable candidates to the Secretary of the High Commission of India in the U.K. After Independence, the long innings of A.L. Mudaliar as the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Madras helped the USAB meet the long-term interests of students.

The increase in students enrolment, the rise in the population of colleges, the creation of new departments within the university system and the affiliated colleges, and the increase in demand for manpower in the employment market posed challenges to the USAB, says the publication.

The USAB started a placement scheme as early as 1950 for students who needed money to continue their studies. They were helped to find part-time jobs in industries, government establishments or service sectors. The USAB soon found a niche for itself in informing students about various courses available in the university departments and affiliated colleges. It helped them find admissions in colleges, and organised exhibitions and seminars on academic programmes and employment opportunities. Its Earn while you learn scheme that helped poor students find jobs during Christmas and summer vacations became popular. In the 1990s, Susila Mariappan took over as its Director and helped the USAB grow and achieve success in various programmes.

Today, a minimum of 50 students, parents or teachers seek the USABs assistance every day. Students are counselled on academic matters such as courses of study, choice of colleges, admission procedure, fee structure, hostel accommodation, scholarships and job prospects after completion of their courses. About 1,000 graduates get part-time jobs every year in the departments attached to the university and the government. INFORMEX attracts about 10,000 people every year, the majority of them students.

The USAB also offers computer-oriented courses at a nominal fee. V.D. Swaminathan, Professor of Psychology at the university, is the director-in-charge of the USAB now.

T.S. Subramanian
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