Surge in the number of students, especially girls from outside the city
CHENNAI: Sandhya* is waiting outside the women’s hostel at Anna University here with her suitcase and bags piled up around her. The first year student from Udumalpet has finished paying her fees and is all ready for the adventure of life in hostel. Unfortunately, her hostel is not yet ready for her.
Faced with a surge in the number of students, especially girls, from outside the city this year, the university is scrambling to provide sufficient accommodation. Students and parents arriving to settle in before orientation begins on Friday were faced with a variety of accommodation, from hastily converted student facilities to new temporary structures.
Above the mess hall, a prefabricated structure with walls of bison board (a type of cement-bonded plywood) and roofs of asbestos has been constructed for 96 students. This is the new “Ladies Hostel – Annexe (built under fast track mode),” according to the inscription on the stone unveiled by Vice-Chancellor P. Mannar Jawahar at its inauguration on Thursday morning.
Sandhya has been allotted to this hostel, but tiles are still being laid, walls are being painted and only one room has been equipped with its bunk beds and cupboards.
“We will have to crowd into some other room for the next three to four days until our own rooms are ready,” says her classmate Deepa*, from Kumbakonam.
For the men, an old Highways department building in the compound opposite the Raj Bhavan is being renovated to create a two-storey hostel for 100 students. Since this will not be ready for several days, several staff quarters have been converted into temporary hostels. The student union building used to hold cultural planning meetings will also house men students, while the two reading halls at the senior women’s hostel has been divided by plywood to create more dormitories for freshers.
The accommodation crunch is due to the 360 new seats added to the University’s departments at College of Engineering, Guindy and Madras Institute of Technology, Chromepet this year, according to Dr.Jawahar. “Out of this, 130 want hostel accommodation at the CEG and another 120 at MIT… since they are first year students, we don’t want to tell them that there is no place,” he says. The shortage is especially acute among women students, as all the new seats are in circuit branches, so up to 60 per cent of the students are girls, he adds.
Senior students also attribute the surge in women entrants from outside the city to the abolition of the entrance examination.
They say the trend began last year itself, forcing the university to convert the International Guest House, originally meant for NRI students, into a general women’s hostel.
The university plans to build a permanent men’s hostel for 300 students at Guindy and another for 250 students at Chromepet in a year. “We hope to start construction in two months,” says Dr. Jawahar.
In the meanwhile, Sandhya and her classmates will have to settle in their converted hostels and get ready for classes beginning on Monday.