Tamil Nadu has 29 deemed universities — the highest in the country — but many of them have less than 30 per cent of students from the State.

SRM University, headquartered in Chennai, received over 80 per cent applicants from other States. This is because students from the State expect to get a seat in an engineering college affiliated to Anna University, says chancellor T.R. Pachamuthu.

“They are complacent and don’t work hard enough to clear our entrance test,” he said.

VIT University that has campuses in Chennai and Vellore has less than 20 per cent students from Tamil Nadu. The highest number of students is from Andhra Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, followed by Bihar and New Delhi.

“Andhra Pradesh has more engineering colleges than TN but the infrastructure they provide is bad. The placements and foreign university exchange programmes offered by colleges here are some of the factors that attract us,” says Shivani Raju, a student of SRM University from Nellore.

Getting into a reputed deemed university through merit, by clearing its entrance test, is considered one of the better options by many students, especially those from the CBSE board, but they are not a big number in the State. Just about four students from Tamil Nadu figure in the top-100 in the entrance exam merit lists of SRM and VIT universities.

The fee structure at deemed universities is also a concern, say parents. 

“I would like my son to study in these universities because they have a pan-Indian outlook. He has cleared the entrance test too, but we can’t afford to pay Rs. 2 lakh a year. I am hoping he gets admitted to an Anna University-affiliated college,” says Anjana Jerajan whose husband is a bank officer.

However, managements of deemed varsities are doing their bit to attract talent from the State.

While Sastra has 60 per cent of its seats reserved for Tamil Nadu students, SRM and VIT too have been running programmes to admit high scorers from the State into their programmes by offering them fee exemptions. And the trick seems to be working.

“The trend is slowly changing. Many informed parents and students from the State are now interested in deemed universities as they are looking at all-round development with participation in sports and cultural events. Private engineering colleges do not accommodate such pursuits,” says P. Ramalingam, registrar of Hindustan University.

The institute draws over 50 per cent of its students from other States.