The Vice Chancellor and registrar have resigned in quick succession. Cadets are left without jobs. Four years after it was founded to provide the shipping sector with skilled manpower, the Indian Maritime University is in choppy waters.

MBA graduates, barely out of college, are generally believed to command very high salaries. But not students from the Indian Maritime University (IMU).

IMU students in MBA programmes involving port management and transportation, report that they are offered monthly salaries ranging from Rs. 10, 000 to Rs. 15,000 at campus interviews.

“This year, IMU Chennai was visited by just six companies for campus recruitment,” said a final-year MBA student.

“I was offered Rs. 12,000 a month for the position of a port manager in Mumbai,” said another MBA student. “Salaries being so low, many of us decided to boycott placement interviews. But university officials said if we did so, we would not be allowed to write our exams,” he added.

Students say there is an incredible mismatch between salaries and promises. “We have forked out Rs. 4 lakh for four semesters.

Besides, we pay Rs. 500 to Rs. 1,000 for every paper. We were promised salaries of Rs. 10 lakh per annum but now we are being offered Rs 1.5 lakh per annum,” said a student of shipping and port management.

Students of MBA apart, even those pursuing a Diploma in Nautical sciences (DNS) are given the cold shoulder by prospective employers.

The indiscriminate awarding of affiliations to many institutes and colleges to run nautical sciences courses has been blamed for this.

“Even engineering colleges that lack basic infrastructure and skilled faculty are allowed to run the DNS course,” said a professor. “Most of these institutes and colleges are unable to find these students sailing jobs which are essential to complete sea-time training.”

A student said, “At IMU Chennai, only one-fourth of the students pursuing nautical sciences could finish their sea-time requirements this year.”

“Students who fail to finish the nautical science course for want of sea-time credits end up taking class IV jobs in a port or enter other fields,” said R. Jayabalan, professor of a college that runs maritime courses affiliated to IMU.

In a remedial effort, IMU introduced a system last month whereby only company-sponsored candidates get into the DNS course, after taking a test.

“This measure has come late in the day. If it had been introduced in 2009, the backlogs could have been avoided. Most other private institutions did this long ago, to control the backlog,” Prof. Jayabalan added.

What is galling, the students say, is the fact that there is a huge demand for graduates from legacy maritime institutes in Kolkata and Mumbai, and some private ones in Pune and Chennai.

“The best employers bypass IMU Chennai, because its students are believed to lack proper training,” said one IMU professor, citing instances from last year where the best cadets were rejected by companies on recruitment drives.

Recently, the Directorate General of Shipping instructed all pre-sea institutes to submit placement records of candidates who had passed out from their institutes, from 2009 to 2011. Many institutes, affiliated to IMU, have failed to do so.

“IMU Chennai has not appointed a placement officer. The placement report, prepared arbitrarily, is neither on the website nor available in print,” said a senior faculty member.

2008 -- IMU sanction for Chennai at behest of Shipping minister T.R. Baalu

2009 -- University begins functioning in Uthandi and 6 other campuses across country

2009 -- 7 government institutes including 3 legacy institutes in Mumbai and Kolkata merged with IMU.

Jan. 2011 -- CBI raids premises of IMU in connection with alleged disproportionate assets case against then V-C P. Vijayan

July 2011 -- Prof G. Raghuram, senior professor from IIM-A is made V-C

March 2013 -- Prof. Raghuram resigns after allegations of irregularities, new V-C appointed

March 2013 -- IMU registrar M. Anand resigns

Other points

IMU Chennai campus offers a diploma and a B.Sc. in Nautical Science, B.Tech in Marine Engineering, LLM in Maritime Law and MBA in 2 streams -- Port and Shipping Management and International Transportation and Logistics Management.

Students pay between Rs. 24, 000 to Rs .4 Lakh depending on the tenure of the course.

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