With 85 Seats Vacant, Is Kolkata’s Presidency Losing Its Sheen? 

The State Education Ministry has sought a report from the college for the 2nd year in a row regarding seat vacancies

4 min read
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Eighty-five of the total 375 undergraduate seats in Presidency University, Kolkata, remained vacant this year. The erstwhile college, which became a university in 2010, boasts of alumni like Amartya Sen, Satyajit Ray, SN Bose and many such luminaries. The 200-year-old institution has been seeing a high number of vacant seats for the last two years, both in their UG and PG courses. In 2016, the government had asked the university to explain the seat vacancies. In 2017 as well, the State Education Minister, has sought a report.


Lack Of Exposure

Some students who said no to Presidency in order to study out of Kolkata, say that the institute lacks a larger academic and extra-curricular exposure. While some feel that academics in the strictest sense of the word is still of the highest standard, administrative facilitation for things like internships and external research work is missing in Presidency, say the students interviewed by The Quint.

The political atmosphere of the campus also, some students say, deter them from opting for Presidency.

The exposure that I got here in Lady Shri Ram College, I would not get at Presidency. The extra-curricular at Presidency isn’t as great as in LSR or the rest of DU
Aishee Banerjee, a first year Sociology student. She left her spot in the Presidency Sociology department to go to LSR.

Shift To Autonomy And Re-Jigging Of Faculty

Many students also believe that academics in Presidency has gone for a downward spiral since Presidency went autonomous, and became an University in 2010. Over the last two years, especially, many students have opted out Presidency’s famed economics course, and have decided to join Jadavpur University instead.

While students choosing universities like DU and JNU over Kolkata colleges is heard of, JU over Presi points towards an interesting trend. Students that The Quint spoke to, say that the faculty at JU, especially in the economics department is far superior to that of Presidency.

Until two years ago, there were tenured professors who were a part of the system. However, they got transferred to various other places. Since then, there were not many professors left. We had to depend on Presidency alumni who are in IIM and ISI to take classes.
A Presidency economics alumnus to The Quint on the condition of anonymity

For people like Utso Pal Mustafi, who has done his bachelors in economics from Presidency, the institution didn’t even feature in the list of top places for postgraduate education. “The Jadavpur University economics department is definitely better than Presidency’s. One or two teachers are great, but most of them lack experience”, said Utso, who is now pursuing his Masters degree from the Indira Gandhi Institute Of Development Research.

After autonomy, many students have left Presidency for JU. We have witnessed it first-hand with our batch. A lot of students had taken admission, but once the JU results were out, they took a transfer to JU. They think that the faculty is not up to the mark after the autonomy.
Srinjoy Ray, First Year Economics, Presidency University

17 out of the 48 seats in Srinjoy’s class remained vacant in 2017.


Campus Placements

Campus placements are a big consideration when it comes to choosing colleges. In courses like economics and the sciences, students in some Delhi University colleges expect an average salary of about seven lacs per annum, just after graduation. Neither Presidency nor JU has a placement mechanism in place for students after graduation. Students thus prefer to go to St Xavier’s College if in Kolkata or DU.

The placements in Presidency are not even comparable to DU. But in the Kolkata circuit it is fine if you are looking for a job after your Masters.
Shubhobroto Ganguly, a first year postgraduate student at Presidency.

The highest package which came in our year was HSBC with nine lakh per annum. At IGIDR, the mean salary is somewhere around 12 lakhs per annum. So placements here are better. When it comes to placements, Presidency is behind DU as well as other colleges

Utso Pal Mustafi, Presidency alumnus 2015

Students also pointed out the lack of placement opportunities in a place like Presidency for courses which are not finance or economics oriented. “I decided to move out of Presidency after my graduation because the placements here will not help me as I am a Sociology student. Finding jobs with think tanks or policy research centres are much easier in a place like DU”, said Ayanti Ghosh, a marketing professional who did her post-graduation from Delhi School of Economics.


Is Presidency Legacy Losing Its Sheen?

While some agreed that there has been a deterioration in the academic as well as extra-curricular affairs at the University, most say it is still one of India’s most premier institutions. “I think it has potential, but in the recent past, it has deteriorated exponentially”, said Utso.

“Even though some seats are vacant, the students that we are getting are good students. The quality of students has not come down because of the admission process”, said Jayeeta Deshmukh, Assistant Professor in the Economics department of the University.

For the Master’s programme, we have students from Delhi University, Pune University etc. coming to Presidency. If students from such well-known institutions are coming here, then they must hold the institution in high regard. Any institution which has had a glorious past, the public perception will always be about how things have gone down.
Dr Sumit Chakrabarty, HOD, English Department, Presidency University

In terms of public perception though, Presidency still holds its stature, at least in Kolkata, is what students had to say. “My friends, family, neighbours – anyone I speak to about Presidency is in awe of the place. I don’t think it has lost its stature at all”, said Srinjoy.

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