The Hindu Education Plus Career Counselling’14 provided a platform for students to make informed choices about their future.

The Hindu Education Plus Career Counselling Fair opened to a great response on April 4 in Chennai. Launched with the objective of providing students an opportunity to interact with institutions and professionals to receive information with regard to higher studies and various options available in professional courses, the event this year saw a stellar array of speakers and students whose interests ranged from biotechnology to economics to particle physics.

The inaugural speeches had some important takeaways for the students. N. Ram, Chairman, Kasturi and Sons Ltd, in his inaugural speech, spoke about the challenges facing the nation in higher education. He stressed that the question of regulating quality in higher education was important and that autonomy was key. “Expanding access is equally important,” he said, drawing attention to the large section that lacked minimum opportunities to get into higher education.

T.V. Mohandas Pai, Chairman, Manipal Global Education Services Pvt. Ltd, delivered the keynote address. The focus of his talk was that sheer numbers and the advent of automation were changing the whole scenario of work-life today, as compared to earlier times. “Education will have to make you fit to live in any part of the world,” he said, urging the students to be competitive and develop global-level skills.

He urged the students to develop a curious mind, read widely, look at gaining a master’s or PhD degree and not just rest with a bachelor’s. “Follow your dream. No course is wrong. Play to your strengths and what you want to do,” he said. G Viswanathan, Founder and Chancellor, VIT University, said while the medium of instruction was English, VIT now offers courses in French, German, Chinese, Spanish and Japanese. He put forth a case to free colleges from the affiliating system and to grant them more autonomy.

The talks that followed touched chiefly on aspects of professional courses. Dr Venkatesh Ramachandran, M.D. Psymed and consultant psychiatrist, spoke about what it takes to be a doctor. “No set holiday, no set work hours, work 24 X 7 — it is a very stressful but rewarding career,” he said.

Career consultant Jayaprakash Gandhi spoke on projected cut-off marks for engineering and veterinary streams. Prof. David Koilpillai from IIT Madras, who had mentored IIT Hyderabad, spoke about the new IITs and what they bring for the students. Padmashri Prof. Ashok Jhunjhunwala’s talk concluded the session. He touched upon various aspects of innovation in engineering that could take the nation to a different level. ICT-based education, populating public health centres with medical professionals, substituting power blackouts by “brownouts” — his talk was brimming with ideas that could inspire young minds.

Several points emerged from the day’s discussions. Sheer numbers pointed to the fallibility of incremental changes in our approach to higher education. Along with hard work, it is also becoming a necessity to think better and develop a far-seeing approach and attitude. Any stream could be a potential career-maker, if approached wisely.

VIT University was the presenting sponsor. Bharath University, Dr. MGR University, Mohamed Sathak Group of Educational Institutions and Vel's University were the associate sponsors.