Quality reigns high here
The lofty white arches that mark the entry into an expansive M S Ramaiah campus welcome one to a plethora of educational institutes, all of significant repute in Bangalore and beyond. As the car makes its way through the gravel into the campus, I pass by the M S Ramaiah Hospital, institutes on nursing education, pharmacy, and the well known medical college even. It appears to be a quiet Friday afternoon, one best spent within the cool confines of one’s lodgings, away from the sweltering heat.
As I walk into the M S Ramaiah Institute of Technology (MSRIT) grounds, I wonder if the college would be deserted, what with it being peak summer and the holiday season. However, I come face to face with hordes of students making their way around the campus, some in their navy-blue lab uniforms and others, fresh from completing their ‘internals’, in heated discussions with their friends or classmates, perhaps over what they had just been tested on.
I’m at the entrance to the administration block, or Fresher’s Block as it seems to be alternatively called, and standing at the entrance, I can see other buildings that host classrooms, a recently inaugurated multi-purpose block, canteens and hostels, just a little distance away.
Located at the heart of Bangalore, in a locality — MSR Nagar — named after the founder of the institution himself, MSRIT recently completed 50 years in the business of education, making this year its golden jubilee year. First set up in 1962 by M S Ramaiah himself, the institute has grown tremendously over the last 50 years, earning a name for the quality of education it imparts.
I’m informed by the director of the institute, M R Seetharam, that when the college first began, it was one of the very few private educational institutions in the country. During that time, Karnataka had around five or six government colleges that provided a college education in engineering. As there was a paucity in the number of seats available to all aspiring students of engineering, MSRIT was established with an aim to provide an opportunity to those students who could not gain an admission into these government colleges.
“My father began with a few courses — electrical and mechanical engineering — and later added on other courses such as civil engineering,” the director elaborates.
The initial years were focused on imparting a qualitative education to its students. Which is why, Seetharam explains, the period between 1962 and 1974 showed slow yet steady progress. During this phase, the emphasis was on acquiring the best of teachers, lecturers and professors, even if it seemed “economically unviable” for the university at that point in time.
“The university broke even only around 1973-74. With the addition of II PUC into the schooling years, there seemed to be an increased interest among students to pursue engineering as a career option. Hence, the college saw a dramatic rise from 1974 to 1997,” Seetharam adds. In fact, by 1997, the college had added 12 other branches to its engineering stream, and its intake had increased to 1000 in 1997, as compared to 120 in 1962. The academic excellence of the college was reflected in the number of university rankings it held; be it Bangalore University or Visvesvaraya Technological University (VTU), under which it is currently affiliated, MSRIT has held at least 20-25 per cent of the top university rankings.
This, the director attributes again, to the quality of education his father had insisted upon by hiring the best from a “wide pool of talent that was available in the country.” After all, it is investment in the best of human resources — teachers, principals, HODs, professors, lecturers, lab technicians etc — that allow for the growth of such institutions.
Adding to the vision
Post 1997, after having established itself as a premier undergraduate institution, the institute looked to add post graduate courses and research studies to its profile. As of today, the institute provides 10-12 post graduate courses and hosts 10-12 research centres, where a majority of the institute’s professors and assistant professors are also research guides, aiding around 70 PhD students enrolled here.
Keeping with the aim of extending its expertise in post graduate study and research, the institute is looking to incorporate courses in remote sensing, aviation and turbines. And as far as undergraduate study is concerned, the college is looking to include a five-year integrated engineering course which will also include management studies.
In addition, the college has also been granted an autonomous status by VTU and University Grants Commission. This has allowed the college to alter its syllabus and increase its interaction with a number of industries and businesses, thus allowing students to gain a more holistic understanding of their subjects and empowering their skills for future placements.
In fact, since achieving autonomy, the college has changed its game-plan — it now examines what the industries of today require the students to be equipped with, and accordingly structures the syllabus along those lines. Hence, at the time of placement, the companies that come scouting realise that such students are better equipped to deal with on-the-job pressures.
When I pose this question to the director, he is all smiles, “We are place-holders in all extra-curricular activities organised by the VTU. VTU has been around for 10 years now, and we’ve been the ‘best all-round college’ for the last seven years at least. Be it a cricket tournament, inter-university or otherwise, we’ve always been among the top performers. Some of our students have played for Karnataka at the Ranji Trophy level as well.”
As the director continues to add to the list of extra-curricular achievements, I realise that the college has given a fair share of importance to sporting and cultural activities — they even organise the All India Invitation M S Ramaiah Cricket Tournament, of which, funnily enough, they’ve been the winners for the last 11 years.
Fees and scholarships
With an annual fee of around Rs 30,000 a year, education at MSRIT appears to be a feasible option for the prospective student. Assuming that he/she would spend around Rs 2 lakh in fees over the course of four years, it is heartening to note that with a placement rate of around 95 per cent, a student out of MSRIT earns at least around five lakh a year, thus levelling out educational expenses in the long run.
The college’s trust offers various scholarships to the toppers of various branches. The Jindal Trust, Jasbir Singh from JSW and the alumni association fund the education of close to 60-100 students every year.
I don’t leave the college grounds without speaking to a few students, and most are quick to uphold everything that’s already been said. I come across a couple of first-year students, and I ask them to share their experiences.
Most offer enthusiastic, positive replies, highlighting terms such as “updated syllabus”, “career prospects” and “good placements” as part and parcel of the institution. And somewhere in the chorus of positive attributes that are hurled at me, I hear someone chip in from the back, “Quality!”