Vani Doraisamy

The Hindu Education PlusCareer Fair 2006 gets under way; elicits good response from students

"Many students lack communication skills""Institutions must impart skill-building techniques"

CHENNAI: A rapidly globalising world has left educational institutions with little choice but to evolve suitable models that will transform educated youth into employable youth, University of Madras Vice-Chancellor S.P. Thyagarajan said on Saturday.

Inaugurating The Hindu Education Plus Career Fair 2006 here, he said the challenges facing higher education planners were increasing the quantum of higher education seekers and matching quantity with quality.

The two-day fair is being presented by Indian Bank, in association with the University of Madras, at the Centenary Auditorium of the university.

Only seven per cent of the 300 million eligible youth in the country had access to higher education. Citing a Confederation of Indian Industry study that said 40 per cent of professional graduates and 70 per cent of arts/science graduates were unemployable, the Vice-Chancellor said the first lacunae in making the youth more employable was that many lacked communication skills. Besides the lack of thinking and planning among the youth, the absence of a team culture aggravated the problem. Higher education institutions must impart skill-building techniques.

To this end, the University of Madras had taken steps to make the curriculum richer through a consortium approach in the public-private partnership mode, whereby the university partnered with the industry, the government and the mass media to give students hands-on training, he said.

India's demographic dividend, with an increasingly younger population taking centre stage, would give it an edge in the years ahead, K.C. Chakraborty, Chairman and Managing Director, Indian Bank, said. The challenge lay in developing this budding manpower. Though education had become costlier, funding was not a constraint, since public sector banks advanced over two lakh education loans. Indian Bank alone had given 24,000 loans and would ensure that no deserving poor student was deprived of higher education owing to funding constraint, he said.

"CET must"

Though Tamil Nadu had seen a tremendous quantitative expansion in professional education providers, the admission process remained uncertain and should be made transparent, N. Ram, Editor-in-Chief, The Hindu , said.

Doing away with the Common Entrance Test, a standardised process for admission, was not desirable, as different students from different streams competed through a common pool. The Supreme Court had also ordered the conduct of a CET. Parents should choose the right college/course for their wards. The Government should put an end to the collection of donation/ capitation fee by private colleges and put in place a regulatory framework to deal with such errant practices.

Parents and students should take preventive measures against the use of banned drugs and narcotics by gullible students and curb it from spreading among the student community. "If The Hindu does not issue a warning now [against substance abuse], it would be failing in its duty [to parents and students]," Mr. Ram said.

Over 75 institutions have put up stalls. They include the NIIT, the AIMS Education, Airtel, Ma Foi Academy, Do-IT and private educational institutions, offering services, including educational testing, psychometric profiling and career counselling. The student community responded overwhelmingly, with not less than 2,200 students visiting the fair on Saturday morning.