Growing with industry

Published : Jul 15, 2005 00:00 IST

At the Coimbatore Institute of Technology. -

At the Coimbatore Institute of Technology. -

The general industrial boom and the advances in the IT sector have enhanced the growth potential of the education sector in the city.

CONVINCED that others should share in his good fortune, pioneering industrialist and philanthropist P.S. Govindaswamy Naidu divided the wealth of his PSG group into five equal parts - four for his sons and the fifth to a trust named after him. Formed with a corpus of Rs.2 lakhs, the PSG Trust brought to Coimbatore the concept of higher learning. Growing from strength to strength, the PSG institutions, which cover the entire gamut of learning, became the bedrock of Coimbatore's industrial development. Many other business houses followed PSG's example and, today, Coimbatore is one of the best known centres for education in the country.

The PSG College of Arts and Science, set up in 1947, offers 29 undergraduate and 21 postgraduate courses with 16 departments offering M.Phil and Ph.D programmes. In 1999, the National Assessment and Accreditation Council gave this ISO 2000-certified institution a five-star status. The first college in Coimbatore to get autonomous status, in 1978, its experiments with syllabi and courses have paid off. It was the first college to make compulsory a certificate course for undergraduate students. It combines a choice-based credit approach with a system that includes, apart from the main course, an inter-disciplinary study. Every course has a personality development component and an extra-departmental subject.

The PSG Institute of Medical Science & Research (PSGIMSR), one of the premier institutes of PSG & Sons' charities, serves as an integrated centre of education, training, development and research. Affiliated to the Dr. MGR Medical University, it is a self-sustaining private institution. Offering MBBS and several post-graduate courses, it is recognised by the Medical Council of India besides the General Medical Council of the U.K. and the Sri Lankan Medical Council.

According to vice-principal Dr. T.M. Subbarao, PSGIMSR offers masters in seven specialities and diploma in five. Apart from a 570-bed hospital with various specialities and super-specialities, its infrastructure includes a 1,000-seat auditorium, a well-stocked library and computer facility.

The hospital is supported by a sophisticated blood bank, identified as the Regional Transfusion Centre by the Drug Controller of India. The PSGIMSR runs a number of research projects sponsored by the World Health Organisation, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, and the Indian Council of Medical Research.

THE Lakshmi Machine Works Limited group's GKD Charity Trust, founded by Dr. G.K. Devarajulu runs three institutions - the GKD Institute for Technological Resources (GKDITR), the DJ Academy of Design (DJAD), and the DJ Academy for Managerial Excellence (DJAME) on a 24-acre campus.

The GKDITR offers short- and long-term training, in various areas, including specialised areas such as CAD/CAM and product design. The training focusses on product development - conceptualisation, design, manufacture and servicing. The Central government has permitted it to set up the National Innovation Foundation, which will help put local ideas into tangible use. This institute runs courses for the socially and economically deprived students who have completed Standard X. At any given time, the college trains 400 students and there is 100 per cent placement, even from outside the country.

The DJAD, in association with the Ahmedabad-based National Institute of Design, offers an 18-month post-graduate certificate programme in design fundamentals, including product design. It was the first institution with which NID collaborated. Started four years ago, the DJME, affiliated to the Bharathiar University and approved by the AICTE, offers masters in computer science and business administration.

According to Group Captain (Retired) Madhav Saxena, the deputy director, the DKG Trust institution's aim is to impart employable skills and help in the easy transition of students to industries. "For that," says DJAME administrator M.A. Chandrasekhara Rajha, "we give high importance to faculty who know the nuances of the industry." Says GKD Trust's P.A.R. Kumar: "We take no donation, our admissions are transparent."

THE Coimbatore Institute of Technology (CIT), founded in 1956 by the V. Rangaswamy Naidu Educational Trust, is a government-aided institution affiliated to the Anna University. Granted autonomous status in 1987, it is recognised by the AICTE. Offering seven undergraduate, eight postgraduate and a number of research programmes in engineering, the college also has programmes in applied science, computer technology and applications. According to principal Dr. R. Prabhakar, the course content is revised regularly to keep up with the changing requirements of industry.

According to CIT Director Dr. S.R.K. Prasad, the institution has excellent facilities, backed by large industrial groups such as KCP Ltd, Krishna Industrial Corporation and Jeypore Sugar Company Ltd. According to Dr. Prabhakar, the institution's strengths are its academy-industry interaction, a highly qualified faculty and top quality research and consultancy.

THE Kumaraguru College of Technology, now in its 21st year, has been ranked among the best in the country by the Indian Society for Technical Education. The college surrenders 25 per cent of its management quota seats so as to take students through the common entrance examination to get the best. It has an excellent placement record. The college, which has a project of the Technology Information, Forecasting and Assessment Council (TIFAC) in textile machinery design, is also setting up a patent information system resource centre.

The college is to start an MBA programme this academic year and has tied up with IT majors such as Wipro, Infosys and Cognizant to train students on campus. Last year, the college sent 10 students to the Czech Republic during summer and this year the number has increased to 17. Started three years ago, the college plans to conduct an international seminar on textile technology along with Texas Tech University of the U.S.

The Sri Krishna College of Engineering and Technology (SKCET) and the V.L.B. Janakiammal College of Arts and Science were started by the VLB Janakiammal Trust seven years ago. According to SKCET principal Dr. S. Subramanian, realising the lacuna in secondary education, the college gives high priority to analytical skills, and the institution has been among the top 10 Anna University colleges for several years. This, he says, has been possible because of the emphasis given to selection of good faculty with very low attrition rates. Almost all the faculty members are postgraduates and all departments have well-equipped laboratories.

The college is building a research infrastructure. It has a modern library spread over 55,000 sq. ft, which receives 733 periodicals, including 418 international publications, over 350 journals, and nearly one lakh e-books. The college also has a digital library and subscribes to digital portals of associations such as the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE).

STARTED in 1997 by Dr. Nalla G. Palaniswamy, chairman of the Kovai Medical Centre Hospital is Dr. N.G.P. Arts and Science College. A co-education college, its annual intake is 2,000. Affiliated to the Bharathiar University, the college gives priority to students from the rural areas, particularly those who are socially and economically deprived.

According to principal Dr. P. Chinnaswamy, the college also encourages sportspersons. While students who excel in any sport at the State level are given free education, food and accommodation, those participating at the district level get heavily subsidised education and boarding. Also, students who pass Standard XII with aggregate marks of over 1,100 out of 1,200 are given free education, while those who secure over 1,000 marks are given a 25 per cent fee concession. While two of its NSS students were part of the Republic Day contingent in Delhi this year, three from the college are in the Bharathiar University's volley ball team. The college, which offers 11 undergraduate, 13 postgraduate and 3 postgraduate diploma courses, was certified ISO 9001:2000 by the British Standard Institutions this year.

The Ramakrishna group of institutions, set up by the S.N.R. Sons Charitable Trust, has in its fold two engineering colleges, one polytechnic, one dental college, two arts and science colleges, a college each for nursing, physiotherapy and pharmacy. It also offers super-speciality courses in surgery, medicine, obstetrics and gynaecology, radiotherapy, radiology and anaesthesia approved by the Government of India.

According to Trust chief executive S. Chandran, there is a lot of demand for paramedical professionals, including from abroad. There are 36 pharmacology, 52 physiotherapy and 80 nursing colleges in Tamil Nadu, but the quality of their paramedical education is diluted as most of these institutions do not have a hospital.

One of the Trust institutions also offers a catering technology and hotel management course. As the focus is now on IT, there is a rush for the computer application and IT courses of the institution at the graduate level. According to Chandran, even in engineering education, there is a great demand only for IT, electrical and ECE (Electrical and Computer Engineering). There are no takers for conventional courses such as mechanical and civil engineering.

The G.R. Damodaran College of Science, set up in 1988 by the GRD Trust, focusses, among other things, on emerging areas and experimental learning to equip students with skills to face the challenges in a rapidly changing world. The National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) has given the college a five-star status. The college has tied up with several business process outsourcing (BPO) companies in Bangalore to train students to speak in English with an American accent. It is the only college operating an FM radio station.

STARTED in 1982, the Bharathiar University has within its fold 90 colleges catering to about 1.85 lakh students, including 15,000 through distance education and over 1,000 research scholars. Among the arts and science institutions in the country, the NAAC ranks the university among the top 10. The university offers several hybrid courses from animal and plant science to medical physics and computational linguistics on its 1,000-acre campus. According to Vice-Chancellor Dr. S. Sivasubramanian, the university has several firsts to its credit and it is the only institution in the country where the Defence Research and Development Organisation is to set up a centre of excellence.

The Avinashalingam Institute for Home Science and Higher Education for Women, a deemed university founded by Tamil Nadu's first Education Minister T.S. Avinashalingam, was started as a Home Science College in 1957. It became a deemed university in 1988. From engineering to teacher's training, the university has it all. The university, with a student strength of 6,000, offers a number of vocational courses to cater to present-day needs. Chancellor Dr. K. Kulandaivel says the college aims to impart traditional and cultural values to girls even as they learn to adapt to the changing times.

The Amritha Vishwa Vidyapeetham, a deemed university, was set up in 1994. It offers courses in engineering, medicine, management, pharmacy and humanities. According to corporate relations dean C. Parameswaran, the institute has one of the best facilities in the world, including the supercomputer Param 10000, high-speed wireless link and internally controlled cable network. The university offers four foreign languages in its engineering and management streams.

The Vice-Chancellor, Dr. P. Venkat Rangan, important to the institution are industry collaborations for research, inter-disciplinary research and institution-industry-government partnership. Last year, the university got 180 chief executive officers from the best global companies to discuss research partnerships. With a thrust on bioinformatics, biomedicine and biotechnology, it is the only TIFAC centre in the country in bio-medical engineering. All its campuses (in Coimbatore, Kochi and Bangalore) are satellite-linked. Common e-lectures are held simultaneously for students of all campuses.

CATERING to the changing needs of industries are the management schools. The PSG Institute of Management (PSGIM) assigns to a faculty member and a group of students the job of working out an effective administrative schedule for companies seeking to equip themselves to face international competition. It also helps them outsource human resource and impart soft-skills such as inter-personal communication. To give students some exposure to the ground realities and also try out basic management concepts, the institute has initiated a project to assist self-help groups in managing their finances and marketing their products.

The PSGIM has been able to ensure excellent placements for its students. According to director R. Nandagopal, management institutions used to go to companies for placement earlier, but now companies come to them. Companies are also seeking management institutions for skill development among their staff. Most companies, according to Nandagopal, are looking for long-term collaborations. In fact, ICICI has sponsored two PSGIM faculty members to go abroad to enhance their skills so that they can, in turn, train ICICI employees.

Nandagopal says the institution is working out research collaborations with Tolido State University and Central Michigan University of the U.S.

Providing a global touch to the international business programme, PSG collaborates with Alliance Francaise and the Japanese Consulate to teach students French and Japanese languages and culture. Says Nandagopal: "The general growth of Coimbatore is feeding the growth of educational institutions." A new dimension to the curriculum is the development of social skills which, according to Nandagopal, is the need of the hour.

The PSGIM, in collaboration with the Department of Science and Industrial Research of the Union Ministry of Science and Technology, is to adopt some sick units and help them in technology management. The institution has a number of programmes and events to nurture industry-institution interaction.

The Jansons School of Management was founded by T.S. Natarajan three years ago as a residential business school. According to director Prof. S. Ganesan, the school, whose standards are on a par with international institutions, has an excellent rapport with industries. Affiliated to the Bharathiar University, the school is focussed on the changing needs of Coimbatore's industries with an entrepreneurship growth cell, an executive development centre, an industry interaction cell, a language laboratory and a management research centre. It also offers courses in emerging markets and family business; it plans to introduce masters in insurance management in the coming academic year.

Jansons, according to Ganesan, provides excellent facilities for its students - each student is given a laptop, all classrooms have Internet connectivity, the whole campus is wireless and examinations are conducted online. Placement, he says, has never been better, particularly from financial institutions. According to him, nearly a fourth of the students are getting a sign-on allowance of Rs.25,000 and more even before they complete the course. But he warns that the quality of academic system - faculty and education delivery - needs improvement to sustain this development, which is largely owing to the general boom in industry. Faculty incubation, where the staff members teach for two years before they are made permanent, is a unique practice in Jansons. The faculty members have this time to make up their minds about continuing in the profession and getting to know the nuances of the job.

The Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Institute of Textile Management, set up by the Government of India's Ministry of Textiles in 2004, is one of its kind in the country offering postgraduate diploma and a number of short-term courses related to various aspects of the textile industry.

Director-in-charge P. Saravanan says the Institute is backed by leading textile companies, enabling it to provide students excellent training. According to Saravanan, students are exposed to the latest developments in the textile industry and are also given an opportunity to understand the working conditions through interaction with various segments of the textile industry. Says Saravanan with pride: "We managed 100 per cent placement in the first year itself."

Its visiting faculty is drawn from top institutions, corporate houses, consultancy firms and policymakers from the government. The institute's infrastructure includes a digital textile library and a modern multimedia computer laboratory. The students taken in are textile graduates, non-textile graduates with some experience in a textile unit, or sponsored candidates with some basic textile knowledge. Says Saravanan: "With the revival of the textile industry, there is a bright future for students graduating from this institute."

In order to expand infrastructure, the institute is investing Rs. 12.5 crores in acquiring land and putting up buildings. According to Saravanan, the plan is to start sector-specific programmes such as textile marketing.

SKCET's School of Management, set up in 2001, is rated B+ by the All India Management Association. "A real feat considering the fact that it has sent out only three batches till now," says director Prof. Sridhar Natarajan. The management school adopts innovative methods: teaching with case studies only, using inter-personal analytical presentation, conducting open-book examinations, organising events that provide hands-on sales and marketing experience of fast-moving consumer goods, imparting activity-based costing knowledge, bringing out an in-house journal for and by human resource students, sending students to manage corporate events, encouraging students to do projects with corporate houses and so on. Most faculty members have had at least a five-year stint with industry.

The Department of Hotel Management and Catering of the V.L.B. Janakiammal College of Arts and Science is affiliated to the Bharathiar University. Started in 1996 with 24 students, the department now has 306 students, with an annual intake of 120 students. According to department head Ajeet Kumar Lal Mohan, the focus is on placement with faculty drawn from the hotel industry. The highlight of the department is the kitchen carnival conducted every year with focus on one Indian cuisine. The department also does outdoor catering. Says Ajeet with pride: "Only last week we catered to over 6,000 people in Tirupur." According to him, his students are all placed even before they complete the course.

The KGISL Institute of Information Management (KGISL-IIM) established by the KG Information Systems Private Limited three years ago, essentially focusses on providing industry-trained manpower to IT and IT-enabled services industry. Affiliated to the Bharathiar University, it offers three courses. According to director R. Shyam Sunder, the institution primarily provides three skill-sets - operating the computer, listening (medical transcription) and talking (call centre) - and is industry-driven. According to him, all projects are given by the KGISL and the students also get a stipend for working on them. S.B. Srinivasan, a consultant for KHISL-IIM, says students now look at not just how good the college is but also in its expertise in particular courses. KGISL-IIM, he says, is focussing on faculty development programmes. The group also has an arts and science college.

There is a plethora of higher educational institutions in Coimbatore. But not many can dream of entering their portals. Most economically and socially backward children do not even get an opportunity to go to school. To make a difference to such children, the founder of Vikram Hospital Dr. P.G. Visvanathan started the PGV Matriculation School to cater to economically deprived children in 32 villages around Coimbatore. The school, which has up to Class VI, is planning to expand to Class X next year.

According to Trustee Muthulakshmi Visvanathan, the school, with its focus on all-round development, has permanent teachers for yoga, karate, dance, sloka and computers. Three Hindi teachers train students to take the Hindi Prachar Sabha examinations. The school also has a good volleyball team that has won in national-level tournaments. Every day, buses collect children from their villages and drop them back.

The Vikram Hospital also runs a school for the hearing-impaired next to this institution. Muthulakshmi says many children from the school for the hearing-impaired are integrated into this school.

There is thus a spurt of educational institutions in Coimbatore with focus on market-driven education, particularly as the city has good employment generation potential. With the general industrial boom and with several IT and textile parks coming up, this trend, say insiders, will only continue.

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