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India Today
July 6, 1998


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Top 10 Colleges of India

As colleges across the country gird up to take in another batch of students, an India Today- ORG- MARG poll identifies the centres of excellence.

By Vijay Jung Thapa

Top 10 colleges of IndiaIt's that first step towards adulthood -- and it is bewildering in its complexity. Enter any college campus at this time of the year and confusion smacks you between the eyes: red, brick buildings that look alike, over-crowded corridors, harassed counsellors, a variety of multi-coloured forms to fill and cafeterias that smell of stale food. The college world seems to swirl in an indifferent haze.

Let's face it -- trying to get into any old college in India isn't a problem. After all, there are 232 universities with about 9,500 colleges to choose from. But in a world where competition begins from kindergarten, students scurry around looking for the best colleges because of the gnawing fear that an incorrect choice could ruin their future. Identifying India's best colleges in various fields, however, is a difficult process. Simply because there are no established, authentic system to rate them, and anyway trying to assess quality is as simple as particle physics. In the West, colleges try and stand out, emphasising their uniqueness, trying hard to sell themselves. But here, instead of being provided with concrete and calibrated facts, students have to rely on myth, rumour and half-truths. It makes admission a nightmarish experience.

Last year, India Today made the first landmark attempt to identify the centres of excellence by ranking the country's top 10 institutions of higher learning. We had then commissioned ORG-MARG to speak to 145 principals in 10 major cities and bring out a list that identified the top 10 colleges of the country irrespective of the various fields. It was easy to see that we hadn't gone wrong. All of them were exceptional colleges whose styles of functioning are imitated, ideas adopted and examples followed.

This year the process has been refined further. ORG-MARG broke up the entire process of assessment into two phases. The first was an exploratory phase where a selected bunch of principals/head of departments were asked to work out attributes on which to evaluate colleges, the relative importance of each attribute and a list of colleges which they felt were the best in India.

These were then analysed to shortlist the right set of attributes, to calculate importance of scores for these attributes and work out colleges of national stature. Instead of just limiting the poll to general/medical and engineering courses, like the one last year, the general category was broken into arts/science and commerce, and even included law as a category. Care was taken to include specialised attributes for various fields like "kind of patients the hospital attracts" in medicine and "provision of legal practical training" in law. Finally, in the second phase, the net was cast wide and 300 principals (twice last year's number) and heads of departments were polled on a detailed questionnaire to work out the best colleges of 1998.

Let's hope it goes far in helping you to choose, instead of just getting chosen.

THE TOPPERS

Arts: St Stephen's, Delhi
Science: St Stephen's, Delhi
Commerce: SRCC, Delhi
Engineering: IIT, Kanpur
                     IIT, Mumbai
Medicine: AIIMS, Delhi
Law: National School of Law,            Bangalore

THE METHODOLOGY
The India Today-ORG-MARG poll was held in 10 cities -- Mumbai, Delhi, Calcutta, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Lucknow, Patna, Ahmedabad and Pune. It was conducted over three days -- June 18, 19 and 22 -- among principals, vice-principals, deans and head of departments. The respondents contacted were 300. They were asked to evaluate each college on each attribute on a scale of 1 to 10. Overall ratings for each college were then calculated depending upon the average rating which the college got on each attribute and the importance of each attribute.

KEY CRITERIA
The principals, heads of department and senior professors were first asked to list the attributes which they felt were important for a student to consider before he or she chose a college. The respondents were then asked what they felt the relative importance of each attribute was. This was done by asking all of them to distribute 100 points across all the attributes they mentioned. An average was then worked out to get what is called "an importance score" for each attribute.

Presidency, Calcutta
Established: 1818 Seats: 500
Cut-off: 60% with entrance test
Address: 86, College Street
St Xavier's, Calcutta
Established: 1860 Seats: 600
Cut-off: 60% with entrance test
Christian College, Chennai
Established: 1837 Seats: 250
Address: Tambaram; 600059
(TIE) St Xavier's, Mumbai
Established: 1869 Seats: 300
Cut-off: 74%
St Joseph's, Bangalore
Established: 1882 Seats: 250
Cut-off: 72%
(TIE) Loyola, Chennai
Established: 1925 Seats: 100
Cut-off: 80%
Website: www.loyolacollege.edu
Presidency, Chennai
Established: 1840 Seats: 800
Cut-off: 72%
Address: Kamarajar Rd., 60005
Brabourne, Calcutta
Established: 1932
Cut-off: 60% with 55% in Eng.
No admission test
Ferguson College, Pune
Established: 1890s Seats: 400
Address: FC Road, Deccan Gymkhana

ARTS

On top of the class

A consistent work culture makes St. Stephen's an attractive bet

ST STEPHEN'S, DELHI
Established: 1881 Seats: 350
Cut-off: Arts 75%, Eco 87%
Best Course: BA Eco (Hon)
Address: Delhi University,
New Delhi -- 110 007
Phone: +11-7257271

If ever accosted at a party and asked "Were you at college?", the chances are that you are not really being asked about your educational qualifications. You are being asked, "Were you in St Stephen's?" To the Stephanian, St Stephen's is not merely a college, it is the college.

Perhaps the last repository of the Oxbridge culture in India, St Stephen's has often been accused of being a finishing school, a networking society and even a dilettante's paradise. Of course, it is all these. But underneath the public school veneer lurks a fierce work culture and competitive spirit. Stephanians love understating the atmosphere of excellence that permeates the college's corridors, but are nevertheless very conscious of it. With one difference: excellence is not measured in academic achievement alone.

This may be why the college comes alive after the formal teaching is over. When every day at least six of the two dozen or so societies -- ranging from the Shakespeare Society, the Wodehouse Society and the Informal Discussion Group -- meet. As Principal Anil Wilson puts it, "That's when the real education starts." There are day scholars and boarders, but in the college hierarchy "gentlemen (and, since last year, ladies) in residence" are the brahmins. And "residence" spawns its own sub-culture and breed of snobbery.

So too does the admission policy that dictates an interview even if the student has the requisite cut-off percentage. The idea is to select the right kind of student who fits into the Stephanian ethos. Every year there are protests in Delhi University about this unique admission policy, every year St Stephen's has its way.

A college catering to the sciences, economics and the humanities, St Stephen's has a distinct liberal arts bias. The extensive college library, for example, is not narrowly academic. It boasts a large section stocking fiction and even a rare collection of books on cricket. The college's ambience forces a student to be aware of much more than his subject. A successful Stephanian is never (at least openly) a swot. The prized attributes are versatility, articulation and even glibness. In the lottery of Indian life, being a Stephanian is like winning the first prize.

Since St Stephen's has topped this category too, we profile Presidency, Calcutta, which came a close second in the science as well as the arts category.

Presidency, Calcutta
Established: 1818 Seats: 500
Cut-off: 60% with entrance test
Best course: Bsc Economics
St Xavier's, Mumbai
Established: 1860 Seats: 600
Cut-off: 80%
Presidency, Chennai
Established: 1840 Seats: 800
Phone No: +44-8544894
LSR, Delhi
Established: 1956 Seats: 600
Cut-off: 88%
Best Course: BA Psychology
St Xavier's, Calcutta
Established: 1860 Seats: 840
Cut-off: 70% with entrance test
(TIE) Hindu, Delhi
Established: 1899 Seats: 400
Cut-off: 90%
Best Course: Bsc Chemistry
Brabourne, Calcutta
Established: 1932
Cut-off: 60% with 55% in Eng
MT Carmel, Bangalore
Established: 1947 Seats: 370
Cut-off: 88%
St Joseph's, Bangalore
Established: 1882 Seats: 476
Cut-off: 88%

SCIENCE

ST STEPHEN'S, DELHI

To the initiated, the world is divided into two castes: Presidencians and parvenus. From the cradle of the Bengal Renaissance to the nursery of the Green Card aspirant. In the 180 years it has been around, Presidency College has meant many things to many people. To successive generations of Calcutta's elite, however, one of its attributes has remained constant: it is the place where you acquire that lifelong chip on the shoulder. The college itself shoulders much history. As Hindu College (it was renamed in 1876), it facilitated Derozio's radicalism. Now it is known as the alma mater of Amartya Sen, the Presidency boy who may still win the Nobel Prize.

Along with economics, its history and, for a time, English literature faculties gave that extra edge to the Presidency mystique. Willy nilly, they have obscured the science courses. Physics and chemistry courses may be commonplace; Presidency's geology department was a pioneer. The college offers coveted seats in a variety of bio-sciences, statistics, maths.

The college has suffered since the Left Front Government took office in 1977. An indiscriminate transfer policy has deprived it of some of its most valued teachers. Nevertheless, examination results have not slipped over the years. It takes a little more than petulance to displace a tradition of excellence.

CMC, Vellore
Established: 1937 Seats: 60
Cut-off: Common entrance test
Address: Begayam, 632002
Jipmer, Pondicherry
Established: 1823 Seats: 75
Cut-off: 85%
Known For: MD general medicine
Kem, Mumbai
Cut-off: 96.6%
Known For: PG in cardiac
Kasturba Medical College
Established: 1953 Seats: 350
Cut-off: Entrance test
Address: Madhavnagar, Mumbai

MEDICINE

A sure shot for sloggers

More patients, better exposure make a difference

AIIMS, DELHI
Established: 1956 Seats: 50
Cut-off: Entrance Exam
Website: www.aiims.edu
Address: Ansari Nagar,
New Delhi -- 110 029
Phone: +11-6864851

AIIMS is like an oversized railway station. Thousands of sick people -- some say 3,000 a day -- seeking salvation journey here from every corner of India. Set up in 1956 primarily for research and to provide tertiary care, it is the nation's premier medical institution.

The institute offers the best undergraduate courses in medicine, and for this the constant inflow of patients is a boon to students. "Our research, patient care and the education we provide are our strengths," says orthopaedician P. K. Dave, the director and one of the institute's first alumni. Fifty students are admitted each year after a rigorous written examination. That this number has stayed constant is a virtue. It has a lot to do with the quality of education that AIIMS provides. This small bunch of students gets total attention and the best opportunities to learn.

AIIMS lacks very little. Funding is generous, with at least Rs 60 crore-Rs 65 crore pouring in each year as research grants. Most faculty members are active researchers, and the highest number of research publications -- 135-150 papers a year -- in any medical teaching institution in the country are produced here. And excellence walks every corridor, for some of India's finest doctors work at AIIMS. They are involved with heart, kidney and cornea transplant programmes, among other things. Hectic best defines a student's life here, yet a gymnasium, tennis court, swimming pool and library offer respite after a hard day.

What sets AIIMS apart is the commitment of faculty members and students. Senior professors earn much less than colleagues who practise in the private health sector. Yet, they do not complain. All the expertise that they gather over the years is passed on to the students. No surprise that only the best students make it to AIIMS every year.

IIT, Delhi
Established: 19262 Seats: 500
Joint entrance Examination
Address: Hauz Khas, 110016
IIT, Chennai
Established: 1959 Seats: 500
Joint entrance Examination
Website: www.iitm.ernet.in
IIT, Kharagpur
Established: 1950 Seats: 600
Joint entrance Examination
BITS, Pilani
Established: 1946 Seats: 300
Cut-off: 95%
Roorkee Engineering College
Established: 1847 Seats: 600
Known for: Civil Engineering
REC, Surathkal
Established: 1960 Seats: 200
Cut-off: Common entrance test
Website: www.krec.ernet.in
VJTI, Mumbai
Established: 1888 Seats: 600
Cut-off: 98%
Known for: electronis eng
Jadavpur University
Established: 1906 Seats: 800
Known for: Computer eng

ENGINEERING

Innovative Learning

The IIT's score with their academic flexibility

(TIE) IIT KANPUR
IITPOWAI

Established: 1960 Seats: 2,150
Cut-off: Joint entrance exam
Best course: Computer Science
Address: P.O. IIT,
Kanpur -- 208 016
Phone: +512-590151

IIT Kanpur's success stems from its successful dismantling of hierarchy. Senior professors often attend specialised classes taught by young assistant professors; course contents are often modified after student feedbacks. Classes have been known to close at 4:30 to take advantage of the winter sun. Students bask in the warmth, kick a ball and return to class late in the evening. No surprise then that eight of the top 10 joint engineering exam entrants of 1997 chose otherwise sleepy Kanpur.

IIT Powai's academic flexibility isn't any less. It recently started a rigorous five-year simultaneous degree for a B Tech with an M Tech -- a programme for students who aspire to be on the cutting edge of high technology. Innovation abounds. The famous Mood Indigo apart, this year will see the start of a technofest featuring virtual intercontinental scientific debates. There was also a table-top soccer match -- between robots.

Loyola, Chennai
Established: 1925 Seats: 100
Cut-off: 80%
St Joseph's (Com), Bangalore
Established: 1972 Seats: 200
Cut-off: 70-80%
(TIE)St Xavier's, Calcutta
Established: 1860 Seats: 350
Cut-off: 60% with entrance test
Hindu, Delhi
Established: 1899 Seats: 400
Cut-off: 85%
MT Carmel, Bangalore
Established: 1947 Seats: 330
Cut-off: 86% for commerce
(TIE) Christian College, Chennai
Established: 1837 Seats: 250 (arts), 50 (commerce)
Address: Tambaram, 600059
Podar, Mumbai
Established: 1941 Seats: 800
Cut-off: 83%
Address: Matunga, 400019
(TIE)Ruparel college, Mumbai
Established: 1952 Seats: 300
Cut-off: 78%
Address: Matunga, 400016
Ravenshaw, Cuttack
Established: 1876 Seats: 256
Cut-off: 65%
Known for: exceptional faculty

COMMERCE

Charting a new course

A faculty and campus for top accountants

SRCC, DELHI
Established: 1926 Seats: 405
Cut-off(97): 89%
Best course: B Com (Hon)
Address: University of Delhi,
New Delhi -- 110 007
Phone: +11-7257905

Whenever you think of commerce, think of us -- it's a maxim that SRCC lays claim to. And successfully too. Every 18 something youngster in the country who has commerce in his heart, it follows, will have SRCC imprinted in his brain. But it isn't easy getting into the only real niche college (offering courses in commerce and economics) in Delhi.

Beginning from a small bungalow in Delhi's Daryaganj, SRCC was envisaged as a college that would provide the best talent to the top industrial houses of the country. Today, as the college functions from a sprawling campus in Delhi University, that concept still holds true. Says Principal J.L. Gupta: "We still give the country great chartered accountants. But now our students are making it big even in the bureaucracy." SRCC is perhaps the only college in the country which boasts of a placement cell that attracts as many blue-chip companies as any business school.

The college's eminence has made the management ambitious. On top of its agenda is a first-rate autonomous business school. All the resources are in place. It's just a matter of realising a dream -- one, the management hopes, will coincide with the college's platinum jubilee in 2001.

LAW

Courting experience

A faculty and campus for top accountants

NLSIU, BANGALORE
Established: 1987 Seats: 80
Cut-off: Entrance Exam
e-mail: registrar@nls.ernet.in
Address: P.O. Box 7201, Nagarbhavi, Bangalore -- 560 072
Phone: +80-3213160

For an institute with a small history -- it was established in 1987 -- the NLSIU has a large reputation. An admiring evaluation came recently from a visiting international peer group, who noted: "The school has already established an enviable reputation in India and internationally as a unique, innovative and multi-functional institution." Situated 14 km from Bangalore, the NLSIU's tony, breezy campus is alive with energetic discussion. When the school's budding lawyers voyage to inter-college debates, not surprisingly they often win. The student body is interesting in its diversity, beckoning more students from outside Karnataka And the faculty has impressive visiting professors as like senior advocate Soli Sorabjee, former chief justice Y.V. Chandrachud and members of the House of Lords.

A major accomplishment, lauded even by the international team, has been NLSIU's successful experimentation with an integrated curriculum -- the blending of social science subjects with the study of law. No wonder the school can claim to be the Harvard of the East.

Other law colleges have not been listed

 

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