Many colleges have similar names, confusing applicants
Brands have their pull, but often when multiple entities stake their claim to the name, the end result is confusion for all concerned.
Murugan (name changed) will agree. “Instead of choosing Sri Venkateswara College of Engineering, I chose a ‘Sri Venkateswara College of Technology’. Can anything be done?” he was heard asking just after his engineering counselling at Anna University recently.
There are at least seven engineering colleges in and around Chennai which have ‘Venkateswara’ in their names. But while Sri Venkateswara College of Engineering, popularly known as SVCE, is well-known for its infrastructure and placements, many of these other ‘Venkateswaras’ lack the same facilities, with one’s pass percentage going below 20 per cent. This is a recurring problem with students from rural areas bearing the brunt, says Sherin, founder, Velicham, an NGO working with first-generation learners.
Other names ‘shared’ by many colleges include ‘Balajee, and’ ‘Meenakshi’. The only discernible difference is in the presence or absence of words such ‘institute,’ ‘college,’ ‘technology,’ ‘engineering’ in the name.
“Many a time a student is aware of that, but during counselling, when he finds that the college he hoped to get into is already full, he gets tense and clicks on a similar sounding one," says Ms. Sherin.
There are also instances of similarity in names among colleges belonging to the same group or trust. Only one of them may be reputed for its results, placements and infrastructure.
“They try to leverage on that particular college’s reputation and it is not possible for students, especially those from outside the city, to visit them and make an informed choice,” says A. Balakrishnan, a senior Anna University professor.
The code of the college in the counselling form and its location are very important and the students can take help if they are not familiar with the areas, he adds. He cited a case of a student last year who opted for an engineering college with a reputed name, because its location showed Tiruvallur, where he hailed from.
“It turned out that it was almost 30 km away from his town and had no faculty members for six months. Many students drop out after realising they chose the wrong college."
Nearly 70 per cent of the students who joined Anna University last year hailed from rural areas, and a slight increase is expected this year too.
An official from the university’s Centre for Affiliated Institutes says it is the students’ responsibility to do a background check before counselling. “The university has no authority to tell institutions not to have similar names. We can just ask them not to have ‘Indian’ or ‘National’ in their names, so that students don’t confuse them with central institutes.”