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A centre for education

Print edition : Mar 14, 2003 T+T-

Pune is the ideal destination for students aiming for higher education, thanks to a bevy of educational institutions offering quality, specialised education.

PUNE is not called the Oxford of the East for nothing. Education is the city's most winning brand. It attracts students from around the world to study subjects as diverse as management and medicine to biotechnology and broadcast communication. The scholarly ambience of the city and the growing number of medical, engineering, business, computer and other specialised institutes, along with the key role played by the University of Poona, have helped to give education the necessary fillip. As per 2002 records, the number of students in the city was upwards of 2.5 lakhs, with the university having 265 affiliated colleges and 135 recognised institutions in Maharashtra. Political stalwarts such as V.P. Singh, Indira Gandhi, P.V. Narsimha Rao, Vilasrao Deshmukh and Sharad Pawar studied here.

What is interesting is the variety on offer. Pune is one of the few cities in the country where it may be possible to undertake a research study in Indology or astronomy. And all this is because of its history. The first school for girls was set up here in 1848 by Savitribai Phule, wife of social reformer Mahatma Jyotiba Phule. Renowned educationist and social reformer Maharshi Dhondo Keshav Karve then furthered the cause of women's education by establishing the Stree Shikshan Samstha in Pune in 1896. Institutes such as the Deccan College, the Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics and the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute laid the foundation for in-depth studies in archival history, politics, economics and culture.

But the city has not rested on its laurels. It has instead moved on, and kept a step ahead of the changing times so much so that the Symbiosis Group of Institutes, the Maharashtra Institute of Technology and the Bharati Vidyapeeth are today counted as the harbingers of modern education. Further, the National Defence Academy, the College of Military Engineering, the Armed Forces Medical College, the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing and the Inter-University Centre of Astronomy and Astrophysics have strengthened the city's position in education.

"What makes Pune so education-centric is the fact that it offers a wide range of courses supported by excellent infrastructure facilities and cultural platforms. Students from across the country and even those from abroad find Pune a pleasant city that is not too large, is affordable in terms of lodging and board, and provides quality education," says I. Baskar, vice-president, administration, St. Andrew's International Academy, one of the new institutes set up in the city that has dared to move away from conventional courses and offer a foreign medical degree. "We established this institute with the goal of fostering access to international academic excellence that is based on ethical values. It has a fully integrated medical school, a state-of-the-art campus, modern technology, a globally accepted curriculum, the best teaching methodologies, and qualified and experienced faculty," says Baskar.

St. Andrew's International Academy offers a U.S.-modelled MD programme in medicine for students who have cleared the higher secondary examination with a minimum of 50 per cent marks. It is affiliated to the South Seas University, Cook Islands, New Zealand and the St. Luke School of Medicine, United States. The study programme comprises 13 trimesters (approximately 4.5 years) with eight trimesters of pre-clinical studies and five trimesters of clinical clerkship. "The pre-clinical programme is conducted at our campus in Pune while the clerkship is done at the university's extension campuses and teaching hospitals in Central America, Ghana and Jamaica. By studying partly in India and partly abroad, the students are ready for a global medical career," adds Baskar.

Another unique feature of its medical programme is the simultaneous coaching and training it provides for taking international competitive examinations that will be a passport for studying in the U.S., the United Kingdom and other countries. "With medical science and related technology evolving at break-neck speed, it is important to train medicos who can comfortably work in any part of the world and be accepted on a par with other doctors," says Baskar.

Every institute in Pune strives to be absolutely professional about what it has to offer and also creates and retains a niche identity. The recently established Indian Institute of Modern Management is a case in point. The IIMM has carved a niche for itself in management education. It has gained the active association of the corporate world. More than 150 companies have recruited students who have passed out from the IIMM. "The Army is also deputing officers on study leave to pursue our two-year full-time management programme," says Prof. (Col.) A. Balasubramanian, Executive Director, IIMM.

The IIMM was ranked amongst the top-class business schools in the country in surveys conducted by some periodicals. The courses offered here include a two-year full-time management programme with a postgraduate Diploma in Management with Dual Specialisation (PGDM-Dual) in Marketing, Finance, Production, Material and Systems, a postgraduate Diploma in Information Technology and Marketing and a postgraduate Diploma in Personnel Management and Human Resource Development (PGDM-PM & HRD).

The distance education programmes offered by the IIMM are aimed at helping people already employed in an industry but without a management qualification. This programme is also useful for fresh graduates who wish to seek an entry into industry but cannot afford full-time management programmes owing to financial or other constraints. Personnel from the armed forces who wish to rehabilitate themselves after retirement in managerial or supervisory positions, and housewives also can make use of this programme. A feature that is so quintessentially Pune. There is something for everyone.