Institutions told to watch out for suspicious behaviour and poor attendance

In the backdrop of the recent instances of students getting involved in criminal activities, Commissioner of Police J.K. Tripathy has urged all educational institutions to help the State police fight crime by maintaining a proper database of its students — particularly of those from other States and especially those living outside campuses. “We urge them to inform us if they find any suspicious behaviour among their students, or even very poor attendance. We will quietly check up the cases so that problems can be avoided,” he told The Hindu. The data, if ready, can be passed on to the police when required, he said.

The request to compile such a database has also come from the Human Resource Development Ministry, which has sent a letter to the State Education Department, asking officials to ensure they have a list of all students hailing from other States. Circulars have been sent to all major educational institutions, asking respective managements to send the State government phone numbers and details of students who live outside hostels.

“They have asked us to find out what they do, which areas they live in, and what courses they pursue,” said G. Thiruvasagam, Vice-Chancellor, University of Madras. Almost 50 per cent of the nearly 5,000 students who study in the university live outside the campus because of scarcity of hostels and 30 per cent of them come from other States, he said.

Circulars have been sent to all 150 affiliated colleges and the data should be ready next week,

Mr. Thiruvasagham said. Students from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh enrol in large numbers at the university, mainly to pursue courses in Siddha Saivantha, Jainism, Christian studies and Islamic studies, besides bio-informatics, many of which are not available in universities in North India.

Anna University too has received the notification and its Vice-Chancellor P. Mannar Jawahar said work on creating these lists had begun much before the letter came. S. Gaurav, a student of the College of Engineering Guindy, said that last week, class representatives, under the guidance of a faculty member, were asked to make a list of students who hailed from other States and lived outside the college.

“Many of us stay outside the college because of the non-availability of north Indian food on the campus. Also, there is a restriction on bringing food from outside to hostels run by the college,” he said. There are 52 students in every batch of 1,200 in the college who come from other States, and there are also some who come through the NRI quota. “There are not many of us. We are allotted rooms randomly, and we also do our projects with students from Tamil Nadu, so we get along well and there are not even separate groups,” said Diwakar, another student.

However, the situation is different in deemed universities, including SRM, that attract a large number of students from different parts of the country. Of the 23,000 students on the SRM campus in Kattankulathur, 65-70 per cent comes from other States, mainly Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

Experts pointed out that the concern is mainly about the increasing number of students who drop out of colleges and those who stay back to clear their arrears or search for jobs. “It is impossible to keep track of them because they do not come for alumni meets and go to the university directly to take their pending examination,” said the principal of a self-financed college under Anna University. The annual dropout rate in deemed universities is estimated to be around three per cent in a batch of around 1,500 students; in certain self-financed colleges, it is over six per cent.

Many professors were of the opinion that families of these students could do a lot more to ensure that their wards did not feel neglected in a distant land. “For instance, many parents do not come here to visit their children and the children too don't go home. Colleges can only do so much, a lot depends on the family support,” said S. Ganapathy, professor, SRM University.