Self-financed courses continue to be a hit in city colleges but the question remains whether they are indeed useful to students or not.
Courses such as Bachelor of Mass Media (BMM), Bachelor of Management Studies (BMS), Bachelor of Accounting and Finance (BAF) and Bachelor of Banking and Insurance (BBI), introduced in 2000, were touted as programmes tailored to meet the career needs of students.
Even as many colleges under the University of Mumbai (MU)offer these programmes, the jury is out on whether they are making students more employable or not. Some colleges said students in self-financed programmes, which are also called unaided courses because they are not subsidised by the university, have an edge over standard Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Commerce (BCom) courses.
Principals said the student numbers in a class for self-financed courses is limited to 60 pupils, whereas the strength of regular undergraduate classroom consists of 120 students, so students get more attention from their teachers. “We are able to experiment several teaching methodologies such as role-play and seminars,” said Dinesh Panjwani, the principal of RD National College, Bandra.
Madhavi Pethe, the principal of Dahanukar College in Vile Parle, said, “The curriculum of self-financed courses is definitely better linked to the industry compared to regular courses. It includes several practical programmes.” She added that the students in specialised courses tend to have better employment opportunities, with banking firms preferring BBI graduates and angel broking firms hiring BAF students. However, others believe that a majority of students opting for self-financed courses is deprived of the supposed benefits of the programmes because of a lack of competent teachers, poor infrastructure in colleges and shortcomings of the curriculum.
“In self-financed courses, most of the teachers are appointed on temporary basis. They have little industry exposure and, as a result, the curriculum lacks sufficient practical aspects,” said Khoj Agarwal, who has taught at several city colleges.
Agarwal argued that, during college placements, the recruiters generally don’t make any distinction between regular and specialised course students. “Many of the BAF and BBI students don’t get jobs in their respective areas of expertise,” he said.
A member of the commerce faculty at MU suggested that older colleges, with necessary infrastructure and resources, are able to do justice with these courses but the situation in new colleges is far from encouraging. “The self-financed courses involve project-based learning. However, many colleges don’t have information and communication technology (ICT) and other resources in place. So, they run these courses just like regular BCom,” he said.
He added that while the university has been sending local inquiry committees to take stock of the situation in colleges, it has failed to follow up on the committee reports.