Mumbai colleges or coaching institute? Lines getting blurred

  • Musab Qazi, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Apr 17, 2016 23:21 IST

More than four years after the concept of integrated coaching – private tutorials collaborating with colleges to train students for competitive examinations – was introduced to the city, the line between the classes and college campuses is now blurring.

What started as a few coaching centres joining hands with junior colleges in the science stream has now spread across city colleges and schools in various forms. All major coaching centres now collaborate with junior colleges, with the ‘integrated programmes’ being advertised prominently.

A Kota-based tutorial, for example, has tied up with prominent junior colleges in the city and suburbs, including Wilson College, Chowpatty, and schools run by a private group. Another coaching institute, also headquartered in Kota, has collaborated with a prominent college in Churchgate, with one of its offices located in the college building. Sinhal Classes has joined hands with 13 junior colleges in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region, which it promotes as ‘Sinhal International Junior Colleges’.

With coaching classes launching their own residential schools and colleges, and colleges luring students to their own coaching institutes, the practice of integrated coaching is now becoming common.

While the trend of coaching classes dabbling in the traditional educational system has reached much later in Mumbai, compared to Kota in Rajasthan and several southern cities, it is catching up.

Five years ago, IITians’ PACE, a city-based coaching centre, started the trend in the city when it converted some of its facilities into junior colleges. Today, PACE has six ‘colleges’ in the city and suburbs. Taking a step further, PACE has started a residential school — Vagad PACE Global School — in Virar, with Classes 11 and 12 for science stream to start from June 2016.

Not to be left behind, Chate coaching Classes, another well-known name in entrance preparation, is also starting its residential Chate School and Junior College. A Kota-headquartered tutorial group, meanwhile, has tied up with a CBSE school in Bhayander for a ‘residential programme’.

Residential schools are being promoted as a one-stop solution for students aspiring to study in premier engineering and medical colleges. The concept is said to have originated in Kota, Rajasthan — the hub of IIT-JEE preparatory classes, but has spread to other cities.

Machindra Chate of Chate Classes said they have set up over a dozen such campuses in Pune, Aurangabad and other cities of the state over the past decade. Its Thane campus will be the first in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region. “Nowadays, students waste a lot of time travelling. We prepare the 24-hour time-table for students at our residential colleges,” said Chate.

He said students opting for different entrance examinations — joint entrance examination (JEE) for engineering aspirants and pre-medical test (PMT) for medical aspirants — are divided into different batches and taught as per their requirements.

Many colleges seem to have accepted the dominance of coaching classes and are happy to play second fiddle to them. In a couple of cases, the college trusts have launched their own coaching classes, which are being promoted along with the college. Some tutorials conduct their lectures on college premises, while in other instances the students are allowed to skip college lectures to attend the tutorials. There are reports of colleges adjusting their schedules according to the convenience of local tuition classes.

Colleges and classes both insist the arrangement benefits the students, who otherwise have to rush from college to the coaching classes. “The number of students going to IITs from Mumbai has increased after the introduction of integrated coaching,” said Tapas Chakraborty, principal, Thakur College in Kandivli. The college has reportedly – the principal did not give more details, but confirmed a tie-up with at least one tutorial – collaborated with multiple coaching classes to train IIT aspirants for JEE.

Some city principals are opposed to the idea of integrated coaching. “These tie-ups are creating a class divide among students in the same college — those who are trained by coaching class professors and those who are not,” said Dinesh Panjwani, principal, RD National College, Bandra.

“Nevertheless, colleges also need to modify their syllabus and include elements of competitive exams in their teaching.”

Others argue integrated coaching is a hassle to students. “Coaching classes charge extra fees for integrated programmes, while the colleges charge their own fees. The colleges receive kickbacks from classes for every student who joins the integrated coaching,” said a teacher, who has been teaching at various colleges and coaching classes in the city for almost 50 years and now runs coaching classes in the western suburbs.

The colleges, however, denied receiving any money from the classes, except the rent. “These arrangements are a way for us to meet the expenses,” said Vishwas Sirwaiya, principal, Wilson College, which has tied up with Rao IIT Academy headquartered in Kota.

The principal, however, said they haven’t allotted the college premises to the coaching classes. Instead, a part of the college hostel has been allotted for the coaching classes.

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