A ‘college excellence cluster,’ comprising eight institutions spread across the southern districts, was launched by the Madurai Zone of Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) here on Friday.

The objective of the cluster is to share best practices and benchmark themselves to engage with the industry in a meaningful way.

Launching the cluster, the past chairman of CII, Southern Region, and Managing Director, Thiagarajar Mills, Karumuttu T. Kannan, said that it was one of the many change initiatives of the CII and would help leverage the dynamics of group learning.

Though regulations on colleges were still prevalent, the mindset had changed for the better. These regulations, he said, would not restrict futuristic agendas.

Mr. Kannan suggested that faculty members could take time out to work in the industry to understand its requirements.

Summer internship for students should be made mandatory, which would enable the students of engineering to work in their domain companies.

Bharath K. S., chairman, Madurai Zone, was confident that the cluster would be one of the models to narrow the gap between the industry and institutions. It would help in sharing the best practices among the institutions in a combination of knowledge, skills and values expected by the industry.

Philip Praveen of Rajalakshmi Engineering College shared the experience of the Chennai cluster. The Madurai cluster is the third of its kind, after Coimbatore, in the State.

Memorandums of understanding were signed by the CII with the representatives of the cluster institutions on the occasion.

The members of the Madurai cluster are Mepco Schlenk Engineering College, Sivakasi; Pandian Saraswathi Yadav Engineering College, Arasanoor; S. Vellaichamy Nadar College, Nagamalai; SACS MAVMM Engineering College, Alagarkoil; Thiagarajar College and Thiagarajar College of Engineering, Madurai; Nadar Saraswathi College, Theni; and Kamaraj College of Engineering and Technology, Virudhunagar.