The ‘Earn while you learn’ programme benefits students economically and professionally.

In an effort to aid students from economically weaker sections, the department of polymer technology at B.S. Abdur Rahman University has initiated the ‘Earn while you learn’ programme. The department recently set up a paper cup manufacturing unit to supplement financial aid provided to underprivileged students of the department.

The unit, housed inside the department workshop, is operated by students and produces about 7,000 small paper cups a day. The cups are distributed within the campus in Vandalur, and in the university’s schools, canteen and hostels. The initiative has helped the university turn self-sufficient in terms of its paper cup requirement for tea and water. The measure has also proved to be ecologically viable as the paper used for the production of cups is 100 per cent recyclable.

Dr S.S.M. Abdul Majeed, professor and head of department, polymer technology, implemented the idea recognising its potential to become a model programme for other departments on campus. “Apart from providing students with pocket money for personal expenses, operation of the unit also nurtures students’ entrepreneurial skills. It provides them first-hand experience of working and monitoring a small enterprise,” he says.

Students are deployed on rotation basis to operate the machine that was purchased for Rs 7 lakhs. The unit can produce 3,000 cups per hour. A workshop assistant is also at hand to ensure student safety. “We are firm on students working the units only after class hours,” says Majeed.

Syed Javith is a final year B. Tech student in the department, and one of the participants in the programme. He works on the production of the paper cups between 5 p.m and 6 p.m on week days, earning Rs 1,500 per month. “The amount is sufficient to cover my stationery needs,” he says. His classmate Y. Edwin Prabhu, son of a petrol bunk employee, is also a participant in the programme. Edwin is on a full tuition scholarship in the B. Tech programme.

The successful distribution of the cups within the university has prompted the department to consider expansion outside the campus by turning suppliers for a local company.