Calcutta University Please Come Out Of The 80’s : A Plea By One Of Your Own

By Sanjukta Das Bhowmick

Calcutta University, was established on 24 January, 1857, and the first institution that was recognised as a multidisciplinary and a secular university.

However, unfortunately, the most prestigious university in the country that is educating stalwarts, refuses to leave its puritan underpinnings and mould itself according to the times.

The university is in desperate need to upgrade its syllabus and introduce new teaching methods, recognise the need for critical thinking and also open panels for intra and inter paper presentation to foster new modes of thinking.

No Critical Theory

As a humanities student, graduating from one of the finest women’s college in Kolkata, Bethune College, I am sad to say, that the university should have changed its syllabus a long time now.

Sticking to a course that was designed in the nineties is no longer sufficient to hone new and eager minds. The syllabus does not even have any paper on literary criticism or literary theory.

How can a university ever hope to engage the new generation in debate and discussions without introducing them to the basic foregrounding?

A proper understanding of critical theory is essential if one wishes to pursue academics and develop their own critique. But sadly, Calcutta University clearly doesn’t think so.

Calcutta University

Absence of Opportunities

Because of the outdated curriculum, students who want to pursue masters and so forth, lack the required knowledge when they apply to other universities. Most often it stands as a barrier for the learning process proving harmful in the long run.

There is no course on methodology and paper presentation. At a time, when everyone is writing their own critique of popular works or of obscured ones, how can Calcutta University students function, if they have no idea of the primary structure of discourse?

Rote learning and exams are things of the past.

In this revolutionary age, we need something that will engage the minds and shock the senses into un-thought-of avenues of critical possibilities.

Dormant Student’s Placement Cell

The placement cell of any university is a primary requisite. CU on the other hand thinks of it as a secondary thing.

The placement cell in the main campus hardly functions, thus giving students little to no option for employment after completing their education.

Some colleges under Calcutta University has student placement cells, but even they are not very good. The companies that are invited are mediocre, nothing very fancy. Also there is a great need for variety among the organistions that do come for placements.

This is something that need to be looked into as soon as possible. Placement drives are an integral component of any university.

Calcutta University

Annual Mode

CU should change the annual mode, not only because it is time consuming, but also by the end of a year, half of the things taught have already been forgotten.

In comparison to that, the semester mode makes it easy to study, engage in varying curriculum activities and get valuable work experience all at the same time.

Annual mode keeps you engaged for the whole year. A semester mode on the other hand is far better.

It makes you goal oriented and at the same time teaches you to study within a time constraint, thus making sure only the essential is taught.

Semester system also makes it easy to monitor the growth and development of students.

Stingy Marking Pattern

As an English Honours graduate from Calcutta university, I and my classmates can vouch for this statement that, CU is more stingy than any miser when it comes to awarding marks.

Getting a first class is like hoping that Ramsay Bolton (from Game Of Thrones) will cease to be a sadist.

This will destroy your career when you want to go to other universities, because 3 years in CU is enough. Where students in Presidency, Jadavpur and DU joke about having to work really hard if you do not want a first class, we in CU pined for one.

To sum up, Calcutta University needs to immediately look into its problems and restructure the whole framework if it wishes to continue in the race of being a prestigious university.

It is losing half of its students to other universities. The standard is falling with rapid speed and a day will come, when even it’s bygone history will not be enough to save it anymore.

I hope this gave you some food for thought. For more such stuff, read this one:

A Record 31 Indian Universities in Top University Rankings: Hopefully A Step Towards Improving The Education Sector

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  1. As a student pursuing his Masters degree in English currently at Calcutta University, and also as someone who has obtained a first class in his undergraduate level, I must say that studying under the university has made me a much better student than I would have been had I been in some other university. The marking system was an obvious cause for concern, and it still is, but it has only made me more aware as a student. I now double check my answers while writing them, and make sure I try to answer as closely to the question as possible. The truth is, instead of blaming the unjust marking system, I’d cultivated early on the importance of putting the responsibility of my marks on my own shoulders. That means, whether I did well or not in the exams was my sole responsibility. This helped me become stronger as a person. I had 57.5% at the end of my Part I exams. But I didn’t lose hope. My teachers at New Alipore College really helped me all the way through. In the second year I scored 63.5% which meant that my aggregate stood at 60.5%. So in my third year I had to literally get at least 60 in all the four papers to maintain my first class. I did it, thank God. Students of other universities might score more than 60%, perhaps even 65-68%. Students in St. Xavier’s College or Ramakrishna Mission College score higher than other Calcutta University affiliated colleges. Although these two colleges are also under Calcutta University, there are two great differences. Firstly, these colleges have the semester system which makes it more student-friendly. The students there are not always burdened with syllabus-work. The second, and perhaps most crucial factor is that the students know that marks will be taken care of. That is not to say that they don’t need to work hard or study. It’s just that they know in their heads that they will be marked fairly and justly by their teachers. Their answer scripts will not go to some unknown part of the world for some unknown teacher to be checked, but will be assessed by their own departmental teachers. That gives them the assurance to read some extra stuff other than that which has been thrust to them by the syllabus. They also score more than those students from other Calcutta University students.

    Coming to the MA level, it’s almost the same as in the undergraduate level. There is the annual system and the syllabus is in dire need of being updated. For example, Jadavpur University teaches the works of Haruki Murakami, Rohinton Mistry and even Kiran Nagarkar. Such things are never to be expected from Calcutta University. Literary theory is introduced to us only in the second year when it becomes to late for us to grasp those new concepts at such short notice. Furthermore, in Paper I, Chaucer and Shakespeare are to be studied together. Although I’m a first year student and a novice to suggest such things, I firmly believe that having two separate papers on Chaucer and Shakespeare would have been far better. Then there is also the issue of uneven syllabus distribution. Let me give you an example. Our session began on 5th September and our internal examination was held on the 10th and 12th of January. These internal examinations are 20 marks tests held on a small scale syllabus. That means we have four months for a few texts to learn and write answers on. Wish things were so easy! Problem begins on the next set of exams. We now have to study 16 texts in 4-5 months. That doesn’t even cover the whole syllabus, which has 24 texts (novels, plays and poetry included), but students can only barely study 16 to make them eligible to answer both short and long questions.
    These are just some of the key problem areas of pursuing an English degree under Calcutta University, both under UG and PG level. Sorry for being so lengthy. Just one of those things taught by CU!

  2. I like what you have written, and it all makes absolute sense. However, you might want to rectify something-as you are a student of English Honors. It’s “my classmates and I” and not “I and my classmates”. Nevertheless, I shall share your post. It’s a good one. Thank you, for speaking up.

  3. Not agree with all the points you have raised. Can’t tell about the syllabuses of Humanities but CU Science syllabuses are revised regularly after a certain period of time. I did my graduation in Botany from Bethune College & I found CU syllabuss for Botany, Zoology or Chemistry composed meticulously keeping in mind the need of the time with recent advancements in Science. In masters course CU has semester system probably for every subject. I admit that CU is a bit stingy in awarding marks & getting a First class is like owning a Kohinoor but still I think CU should continue this strategy to stand out. In this regard I want to share my personal experience. In my Part 1 of graduation I was awarded 59.5%. I literally got insane & cursed CU to hell. I demanded to see my copies under the aegis of Right to Information act. The whole process went so smooth & after a month of one or two of my application CU showed my copies & I found nothing wrong in the evaluation of my copy. Also the concerned professor who had evaluated my copy wrote some footnotes on my answer script about what specifically were lacking in my answer. I realised fault was in my answering system rather than in Cu’s evaluation. But this urged me to work harder & in Part 2 I got 71.5%. And it’s a feeling of extra pride when you manage to get 70% up from CU. Students from other universities stare at you with extra large eyes because they very well know how difficult it would have been to score a 1st class from CU. It is this sense of respect for CU that makes this age old university distinguished from others.
    Though I fully agree with you that CU placement cell is indeed very poor. They should really invest their attention in this regard.

  4. In retrospect may be I should have studied more strategically. May be I lacked proper time management and decision making skills in the exam.

    But still I did put in a lot of effort to get a First Class and the second class just shattered me to bits. It still rankles like an old unhealed wound even today, though I went on to do really good in my MA (70%)

    I am keen on pursuing an MBA in near future, and though I am preparing for entrance exams to the best of my ability, my less than glorious UG GPA just haunts me like anything. :(


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