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Thursday, Sep 19, 2019

A hot date with history

As many colleges in Kolkata came into existence during the 19th century social reformation movement, studying in this city means being one with history

education Updated: Jun 27, 2012 17:30 IST
Kajoree Khasnabis
Kajoree Khasnabis
Hindustan Times


Most colleges in Kolkata were established during the 19th century social reformation movement of India and have played an active role in shaping the modern history of India. Many of them also happen to be the oldest educational institutions of the country. Bethune College is the first women’s college in Asia, Presidency, Scottish Church are some of the earliest ones in India. Lady Brabourne College is the first college established for Muslim women. They were founded by some illustrious social reformers of our country like Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar and have had as alumni some of the greatest names of modern Indian history like Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, Swami Vivekananda, Rajendra Prasad among others. So, studying in Kolkata colleges means becoming part of a proud heritage.

Today, colleges like Lady Brabourne, Bethune, Loreto, Scottish Church and Presidency University, all of which are rated A or A+ by the National Accreditation Council under the University Grants Commission, provide high quality of education in humanities, science and commerce. Students can choose their honours papers from the first year along with pass subject combos. Kolkata also sends a large number of students for research work abroad every year.

The city has a very well-linked transport system that comprise local trains, the Metro, local buses and the kings of city streets — the autorickshaws. The cost of transport is also the least in the country, the lowest Metro, bus and auto fares being Rs. 4.

The city is also a foodie’s paradise, boasting of legendary eating joints and a distinctive street food culture. Camac Street is one such street that reflects the city’s diversified culinary taste. Upper Crust, Flury’s, Kathleen’s and now Cookie Jar are the famous bakeries in town. If you’re fond of Chinese food, head to Tangra that has dozens of popular Chinese resturants. If it’s Tibetan food that you’re looking for, then Elgin road and Lee road are the places to be in for delicious momos. Shiraz is a must for everyone who comes in to the city. The Mughlai is excellent. The biriyani here is very famous.

A student can get inexpensive accommodation compared to other metro cities and the cost of food too is very economical what with the city being in the street food festival mode 365 days of the year and with a plate of biryani that costs as low as Rs. 16.

The city is perhaps the safest city in India. There are many hangout joints from the iconic Coffee House, the first multiplex of India — the Nandan complex, the quaint cafes strewn across the city to swanky international chains like Mocha, Barista, CCD and so on. There is enough food for thought with regular plays and exhibitions throughout the year. Foreign universities too are realising the education potential in Kolkata. Bournville University from the UK has chosen Kolkata as their southeast Asia base.

So, step right this way if you are a student looking for a laid back atmosphere in everything other than academics, pulsating intellectual pursuits, overnight trips to the beautiful hills of North Bengal, the right to loiter in the corridors of some of the grandest 19th century architecture.

Deeki Chodden Bhutia, student from Gangtok, Sikkim

Kolkata is the gateway to the northeast. Several students from the seven sister states come to the city to study. Deeki Chodden Bhutia hopes to get into Scottish Church College in either the English or the political science course. However, her first preference is geography, but the college does not offer this course.

She’s chosen Kolkata for the “exposure the city can provide to a person like me who hails from a remote part of the country.”

What about accommodation? Bhutia will have to primarily depend on private accommodation as there is a one-year waiting period for hostel seats. Kolkata’s reputation as a safe city is a big reason for her choosing to move here after school. “People here respect girls. For an outsider, this is a boon,” she says.

She chose Kolkata because her cousins also study in colleges in the city. "This is a big reason I too chose to come here as even they vouch for the better safety in Kolkata for girls than any other city. The crime rate is also lower here," she says.

Adjustments have to be made though. The squalor of the city streets takes some getting used to. “The spicy food available is too strong for my unadventurous palette. But friendly people make up for it all,” she says.

She dislikes the touts who approach students with promises of getting admission into colleges in return for a shocking sum of money. “That’s a big let down,” she says, adding they target only outsiders.

There are places like the Aquatica Water Park, the zoo and the museum that she is keen to visit. “The museum especially I’ve learnt is a must for students,” she says

Other than her studies, she wishes to pursue her interest in music. “Maybe learn the guitar. There are good music schools like the Calcutta Music School. Many musicians also come over to teach at home,” she says.

People in Sikkim believe in the concept of self-employment before self-enjoyment. So there will be no pubbing or clubbing for Bhutia till she is old enough, mature enough and responsible enough.

This is another reason for choosing Kolkata. People here respect single-minded focus on academics. “No cool quotient required.”

Last but not the least, Kolkata is also easier on the pocket or the tote, as a destination for students. The cost of getting a college degree here is not as high as is elsewhere. — Kajoree Khasnabis

Kolkata is easier on the pocket compared to other cities in the country and a lot safer too

Scottish Church College

Vision for the future
Scottish Church College has gone through a major facelift in the past decade. Gone are the dilapidated walls, the damp, hazardous ceilings, the hordes of students lingering in the assembly hall between and during classes. The dynamic principal John Abraham has brought in renovations in more than just the physical structure of the heritage building. This is Kolkata’s first college to fully computerise the admission process and every department has internet connectivity.

Abraham advocates the need for value education along with the regular courses. The college holds a regular assembly. The new students go through four-hours of gruelling orientation programme at the beginning of the session. Abraham hopes to see the college become a university in another 10 years while his short-term goal is to develop the infrastructure of the institute.

For those who are not aware, the college was founded in 1830 and is the oldest Christian arts and science college in India. It was established by Reverend Alexander Duff, the first missionary to India from the church of Scotland, with the support of the Governor General of India Lord William Bentinck and social reformer Raja Ram Mohan Roy. Thecollege was also the earliest English medium institution in the country. Vivekananda and Subhas Chandra Bose have been been its alumnus.

Game for more
While the college is aspiring to become a university , some more postgraduate courses will be added to the two already on offer.The college has raised nearly RS. 60 lakh in donations and used it to renovete the building and more grants will be utilised to add new facilities, like the main girls' hostel, which will get a new building in another six months

Masti dhamal
Caledonia is the annual fest held at the campus, attracting participants from many city colleges.The college also organises a sports day and a social, a cultural function where stars are invited to perform

Book nook
The college has a fully computerised library, and the campus is located 15 minutes from College Street. So finding study material within or without the
campus is never a challenge

A drink and a bite
Scottish Church is located in north Kolkata and true to the flavour of this part of the city, there is no dearth of streetfood joints and quaint cafes around the campus. The college has its canteen, but the Hedua Park, located right outside the gates, makes for a better hangout haunt

The college was founded in 1830 and is the oldest Christian arts and science college in India. It was set up by Reverend Alaxander Duff, the first missionary to India from the church of Scotland, with the support of the Governor General of India Lord William Bentinck and social reformer Raja Ram Mohan Roy

Programmes & cut-off
Scottish Church College offers postgraduate courses in microbiology and computer science, making it a partly autonomous college. Humanities and sciences are the two streams at the undergraduate level, with English, physics, political science, chemistry being the popular subjects. The cut-off for English and physics is 80% while for chemistry it is 75% and political science it is 60%. The college also offers a BEd course for girls

The faculty comprises distinguished professors, many of whom have taught here for decades. They are easily approachable and ever eager to help both in classroom or accosted on the stairs

All colleges under Calcutta University must begin admissions from June 28 and the last date is August 6

Known for
Scottish Church College is best known for its two illustrious alumni, Vivekananda and Subhas Chander Bose

There is a need for value education alongwith regular courses. I hope to see the college become a university in another 10 years John Abraham, principal

Presidency College

Road to reformation
The newly annointed Presidency University is going through a major overhaul in all its departments. Dean of students, professor Deboshruti Roy Chowdhury calls it the “reformation” phase. The university, she points out, is primarily for students keen on careers in research work and academics. Hence, it does not have any specific corporate career-oriented courses on offer, but believes in the global education of its students who go on to succeed in every sphere. She points out that the superior quality of English language as the medium of instruction in every subject helps in most careers. The university has the enviable record of seeing many of its students pursue higher studies abroad. But the dean informs us that they plan to approach foreign universiyties for exchange programmes by the next session.There are, however, no immediate plans to introduce job-oriented subjects along with the humanities and science courses on offer.

Presidency began its illustrious history in 1817 as Hindu College meant for boys of the hindu elite in Bengal. Raja Ram Mohan Roy was one of the founding members. The name was changed to Presidency to allow boys of other religions to study here.

The formal establishment of Presidency University in July 2010 allows it to refashion its venerable traditions.

Game for more
The oldest educational institution in India is at the moment on cusp of change. Every field will see reforms and changes and the ambition is to soar even higher. No long-term plans are being disclosed yet. But the pursuit of excellence goes on unihindered

Masti dhamal
The students union at Presidency is one of the most active in the country, with its long history of political affiliation. Presidency has an annual fest, Milieu, a much-awaited event for college students in the city. The university has a cricket team as well

Book nook
Presidency has one of the best libraries in the state. It is a museum of rare old books and journals. There are also priceless paintings by famous European painters.

The library has books and CDs numbering in lakhs. It is computerised and has internet browsing facilities

A drink and a bite
The university campus is surrounded by iconic food joints like Coffee House and Putiram's shop, the YMCA canteen. the campus too has a much-loved canteen. College Square is the epicenter of the adda culture of Kolkata.Coffee House obstinately refuses to ban smoking

Presidency began its illustrious history in 1817 as Hindu College meant for boys of the hindu elite in Bengal. Raja Ram Mohan Roy was one of the founding members.The name was changed to Presidency to allow boys of other religions to study there

Programmes & cut-off
The cut-off marks at Presidency College varies according to the subjects chosen. For philosophy it is 55%, but for English, biochemistry, physics and chemistry it is 80% while for economics, physiology and statistics it is 70%. All applicants have to appear for an admission test. The opportunities provided by the university for research are one of the best in the world. But new programmes will be started once the faculty recruitment is over

Presidency College has always been renowned for its very capable faculty, but it is now inviting applications from all over the world for all departments. The process of recruitment is not over yet

The admission process is still underway and the last date of admission has not yet been announced

Known for
The line-up of alumni is the best advertisement for the university

The university is going through a reformation phase.There are plans to approach foreign universities for exchange programmes by the next session Deboshruti Roy Chowdhury, dean and professor

First Published: Jun 26, 2012 16:56 IST