The role of private players

Print edition : July 28, 2006

Education in Tamil Nadu, especially engineering education, has benefited much from the efforts of the private sector.

T.S. SUBRAMANIAN in Chennai

At a model entrance examination organised by The Hindu Education Plus and Aspire Learning Company recently.-S. SIVA SARAVANAN

PRIVATE initiative in education has been a cornerstone of the spread of literacy in Tamil Nadu. If Christian missionaries and philanthropic individuals were behind the starting of schools in the 1800s and early 1900s, Nattukottai Chettiars took the lead in the mid-1900s in setting up schools, engineering colleges and universities.

The Annamalai University at Chidambaram, the Alagappa Chettiar College of Technology in Chennai, the Alagappa University at Karaikudi and several schools and colleges in Chennai are instances of the far-sighted vision of the Nattukottai Chettiar community that education is the key to success in life. In the 1980s, it was the turn of politicians, industrialists and other individuals to start engineering colleges in Tamil Nadu.

Tamil Nadu, with about 230 private engineering colleges, has the largest number of engineering colleges in the country today. This has perhaps led to a glut of seats.

Some of the engineering and medical colleges in the State have metamorphosed into deemed universities today. They include Sathyabhama Institute of Science and Technology; Bharath Institute of Higher Education and Research; SRM Institute of Science and Technology; Dr. MGR Education and Research Institute; Sri Ramachandra Medical College and Research Institute, all located in Chennai; Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi Viswa Mahavidyalaya and Meenakshi Institute of Higher Education, both in Kanchipuram district; Vellore Institute of Technology in Vellore district; Vinayaga Mission Institute of Technology in Salem district; Shanmugha Arts, Science, Technology and Research Academy (SASTRA) in Thanjavur district; Avinashilingam Institute of Home Science and Higher Education for Women; Amrita Institute of Technology and Science; and Karunya Institute of Science and Technology, all located in Coimbatore district.

DR. SUSILA MARIAPPAN, Director, University Students' Advisory Bureau, University of Madras.-K.V. SRINIVASAN

SASTRA has made a name for itself with good academic standards and a cosmopolitan student population. It has an impressive library too. The Gandhigram Rural Institute in Dindigul is also a deemed university.

A valuable volume called Academic Profile of Tamil Nadu (What after +2) has been brought out for the benefit of students by Dr. Susila Mariappan, Director, University Students' Advisory Bureau, University of Madras. The book, priced at Rs.150, contains 16 chapters on various courses offered in colleges in Tamil Nadu and the scholarships available to students. It contains a whole range of information on the courses offered by colleges, institutions and universities in the State. There is information on employment opportunities in public sector undertakings, defence services, and so on.

Vel's group of institutions, which began with the Vel's College of Pharmacy in 1992, has become a big group today with 12 different colleges on three campuses in and around Chennai. These institutions are run by Vael's Education Trust founded by Ishari K. Ganesh in 1992. The 12 colleges include Vel's Academy of Maritime Studies; Vel's Academy of Maritime Education and Training; Vel's Institute of Hotel Management; Vel's College of Science, Vel's Srinivasa College of Engineering and Technology; and Vel's Vidyashram.

The Madras University-affiliated Vel's Academy of Maritime Studies (VAMS) at its Pallavaram campus, near Chennai, offers a B.Sc. in Nautical Science, a three-year course approved by the Directorate-General of Shipping. "We were the first to start this course in India in the private sector," said Ishari Ganesh.

The Sri Ramachandra Medical College and Research Institute in Porur, Chennai.-S.R. RAGHUNATHAN

Five batches of students have passed out, and all of them have secured placements as officers in ships. VAMS also offers a one-year Diploma in Nautical Science, and a two-year Higher National Diploma in Nautical Science. Students of the Higher National Diploma spent the first year at VGAMS, and the second year at Glasgow College of Nautical Studies (GCNS), U.K.

Vel's Academy of Maritime Education and Training (VAMET), at Thalambur, 20 km from Adyar, Chennai, offers B.E. in Marine Engineering, a one-year Graduate Mechanical Engineering, a two-year Diploma in Mechanical Engineering, and a Higher National Diploma in Marine Engineering. Students of Higher National Diploma spend the first year at VAMET and the second year at GCNS, U.K. These courses are affiliated to Vinayaga Mission Institute of Technology, a deemed university at Salem. All the courses at VAMS and VAMET are residential.

Vel's Institute of Hotel Management at Pallavaram offers a diploma in Hotel Management, a B.Sc. and an M.Sc. in Hotel and Catering Management, and one-year certificate courses in Food Production, Bakery, House-keeping, Food and Beverage Services, and Front Office.

Christian Medical College (CMC), Vellore, has pioneered family medicine education with its family medicine diploma programme. It is a two-year distance education course. The CMCH started the family medicine course with a view to bringing down health care costs, which escalate mainly because of referrals.

A family medicine doctor provides a one-window solution to patients' ailments. According to CMC, the family medicine course can help a general practitioner become a multi-competent specialist. The programme has pedagogic methods such as problem-based interactive learning modules; contact programmes three times a year in a nearby Christian hospital for two years; video conferencing education that includes 90 hours of instruction by faculty from CMC, Vellore; and project work.

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