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Awareness of Higher Education in U.S. low

Students from rural areas are more meritorious, but the awareness level about higher education options in the United States is very low, Rachel O’Hara, Vice Consul, American Consulate General, Chennai said here while interacting with students of Government College of Engineering Salem on 10th April, 2013.

She said that studying in the U.S. is no more a dream for students as scholarships, company sponsorships and other funding were available if the basic criteria are satisfied.

Explaining the new visa processing system for students, she said that the preparation should start before 18 months beginning with inquiry about universities and courses, applications, visa application and processing.

She outlined the process in applying for student visa and asked students to register themselves with Designated School Official ( DSO ) within 30 days of start of the course.

She added that the embassy is concentrating on Tier II cities to create awareness among rural students and make their dream come true.

“Students may seek assistance from the United States – India Educational Foundation ( USIEF ) located at the U.S. Consulate in Chennai,” she added.

Ms. Rachael also made a presentation about universities in the U.S., accreditation status of institutions and also screened the feedback of Indian students studying in U.S. universities.

Vidhya Nandakumar, Visa Assistant, Consulate Information Unit, said that details were available in websites and requested the students to seek the assistance of the U.S. Consulate in Chennai for any information.

P.G. Venkata Krishna, Vice Principal of the college, Dr. V. Rajkumar, Placement Officer, Dr. S.K. Chitra Laxmi, Head of English Department, faculty, students of second year and third year of various branches participated.

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Fillip to Higher Education 2013

Besides an allocation of ₹ 150 crore for building infrastructure for the regional centres of the Anna University, Chief Minister Jayalaithaa on 8th April, 2013 announced the creation of higher research and education centres in nine universities in the name of Swami Vivekananda.

Making a suo motu statement in the Assembly, she said four more arts and science colleges, two affiliated colleges and a polytechnic would be started in the State and one engineering college in her Srirangam Assembly constituency.

Ms. Jayalalithaa said ₹ 30 crore each would be spent on creating educational infrastructure for Madurai and Coimbatore regional centres. The government would also spend ₹ 10 crore each for constructing students’ hostels in Madurai, Coimbatore and Tirunelveli regional centres.

The constituent engineering colleges in Dindigul, Ramanathapuram, Tuticorin and Nagercoil would get students’ hostels at a cost of ₹ 10 crore each. Similarly the constituent colleges in Pattukottai and Panruti would get hostels at a cost of ₹ 5 crore each.

The Chief Minister said ₹ 10 crore would be spent on providing electricity, drinking water, sanitations and other facilities for all the 12 constituent colleges of the Anna University.

Ms. Jayalalitha said taking into consideration the relevance of the teachings of Swami Vivekananda, her government had decided to set up higher research and education centres in his name. These centres would come up in the Madras University, Madurai Kamaraj University, Bharathiyar University, Bharathidasan University, Mother Teresa University, Alagappa University, Manonmaniam Sundaranar University, Periyar University and Tiruvalluvar University. The allocation for each centre was ₹ 25 lakh.

Ms. Jayalalithaa said eight new arts and science colleges had been announced in the budget and, now, the government had decided to start four more colleges.

Eleven colleges would be set up in Sivakasi in Virudhunagar district, Kovilpatti in Tuticorin district, Kadaladi, Muthukalathur and Tiruvadanai in Ramanathapuram district, Karambakudi in Pudukottai district, Hosur in Krishnagiri district, Kumarapalayam in Namakkal district, Kangeyam in Tirupur district, Uthiramerur in Kacheepuram district and Peravurani in Thanjavur. One arts and science college for women would come up in Karimangalam in Dharmapuri district.

Moreover, the Chief Minister also announced two more constituent arts and science colleges. Veppur in Perambalur district would get a women’s college and Tittakudi in Cuddalore district would get one arts and science college.

She said since Tiruchi, the centre of the State, had no government engineering colleges, the government would start a college in Srirangam. Cheyyar in Tiruvannamalai district would get a polytechnic.

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Work Hard Civil Services aspirants told Higher Studies Centre in Coimbatore

Each failure must be seen as a lesson and should not be a cause for dejection, Corporation Commissioner G. Latha said Coimbatore recently.

She was interacting with civil services aspirants of the Higher Studies Centre as part of the Achiever Interaction Programme.

She stressed that the objective of clearing civil services examination should be to enter civil services with the motive of social welfare and not for personal luxury.

The system had endowed the civil servants with phenomenal power and authority so that they utilize this to serve the underprivileged and the poor.

“The key to success in examinations and in life is the blend of commitment and confidence. Mind is the master and therefore one should master the mind to become successful. You should not believe in fate and destiny, but work hard to change the direction of life,” she said.

Ms. Latha urged them to consider books as their friends and said that extensive reading would help them crack the civil services examination.

She stressed the need for women to be educated, because this would lead to doing away with atrocities against them.

About the municipal administration of Coimbatore, she said that improving sanitation and drinking water supply were the topmost priorities.

P. Kanagaraj, Chief mentor of the Higher Studies Centre, said that the Coimbatore Corporation was the only one to establish the Higher Studies Centre that catered to the needs of civil services aspirants.

“With the will to adapt, be resilient and committed, aspirants can successfully tackle the challenges that come in the form of change in syllabus and examination pattern.

“The present pattern is almost three decades old and hence aspirants look forward to a change that will reflect contemporary trends,” he said.

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Choosing the right Institution for Higher Education

Parents of students aspiring to pursue a degree course in a arts and science or engineering college base the merit of the institution on certain criteria before applying for a course.

While there are several criteria by which one can choose a col­lege, experts believe that it is impor­tant to prioritise these in the right order to get the best out of the institution.

The first and foremost criterion by which parents and students were choosing colleges was by the rate of placement. But this is not the case any longer. It would be safe to say that it is one among other criteria.

Colleges used to pride themselves about the popularity quotient based on the number of placements, number of applications sold at the beginning of the year and the number of admis­sions made. But this can no longer be the deciding factors, say experts.

According to C. Parameswaran, Director, Corporate and International Relations, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, parents and students should not get carried away by the marketing tactics of institutions.

“The contribution of the institution to education should be assessed in terms of the kind of discipline main­tained in the institution, quality of education that can be measured in terms of effective syllabus, faculty commitment, conducive ambience, infrastructure, and the study – life bal­ance that makes them moulds them into a good human being. If all these are there, getting a job will follow without any effort,” he says.

Getting to know the institution be­fore making a decision is best made by talking to the students studying there. “They are the best ambassadors”.

G. Thiruvasagam, Vice – Chancellor of University of Madras, says that a recent survey shows that 94 per cent parents still believed that education was only for getting employment.

In this background, choosing an institu­tion based on the placement record will be a large priority. “But it should not be taken as the sole criteria. The first and foremost the students should look for is the course content.

Focus should be on the inter – disciplinary na­ture of the course. The college should offer scope for further / specialised studies. And, the other important as­pect is the quality of teachers,” Mr. Thiruvasagam says.

Representatives of colleges say that students and parents are very clear as to what they want. When the sale of applications began this academic year, there were many who demanded to be shown the classrooms, laboratories, library and other infrastructure.

Many colleges have as­signed two or three staff to take the parents and students around the cam­pus and explain the various facilities.

C. Pichandy, Professor, PSG College of Arts and Science, and State General Secretary of Association of University Teachers, says that the neo – literate parents weigh their op­tions before they even come to buy applications.

“They want a whole package. They are keen on the quality of teachers, infrastructure available, placement records, and also on the background of the institution – whether it has a good management, has some history, etc.,” he says.

Many academicians welcome this trend. Irrespective of whether the col­lege offers arts and science education or engineering / technical, or business management, the criteria that they have to fulfil to be ranked well seem to be similar.

They say that it will put pressure on the institutions to improve in all ar­eas, to be competitive in terms of ad­mission and also placements.


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