How to choose an institute?

The counselling process for professional courses is due to begin soon for a new academic year. One of the most common questions students ask in my weekly column in a leading newspaper is how to choose a good institute, after selecting a course.

Why the confusion?

Imagine this: We have over 55,000 institutions and 1000 plus universities, nationally. If a student has to choose an engineering college, there are about 3500 colleges in India including 542 in Karnataka alone. Similarly, there are over 6000 MBA institutions including over 900 in Karnataka. In recent times, the number of institutions in every stream has proliferated leading to intense competition and tall claims, the veracity of which can only be determined through an analysis. Therefore, the difficulties expressed by students in selecting a good institute is understandable.

Which factors to consider?

Choosing an institute is a crucial decision that shapes our professional life. Students must evaluate institutions thoroughly and not merely accept any institute that’s offered in the counselling process or otherwise. The following factors can provide guidelines for a thorough evaluation of an institute.

1. Number of years

It takes a few years for a new institute to get over its teething issues and create quality infrastructure. Students should be cautious and prefer established ones.

2. The team

Please go through the profile of the founding members, promoters, directors to know the credibility.

3. Faculty

Experience and qualifications of faculty, research papers published, other accomplishments by faculty members are key factors to check.

4. Pedagogy

Teaching and learning methods can differ across institutions and impacts the quality and extent of knowledge and skills acquired.

5. Infrastructure

Depending on the course, infrastructure requirements vary. In general, the following factors must be checked.

  • Hospital/Laboratories.
  • Library.
  • Classrooms.
  • Seminar halls/discussion rooms.
  • Hostel/Canteen.
  • Sports facilities.
  • Hygiene and Ambience.

6. Institute/Industry collaboration

A strong industry collaboration helps the learning process to meet the requirements of the job market.

7. Placement record

With unemployment hovering around 8%, it can be a challenge to get jobs. Hence, it’s important to understand the efficacy of the placement process.

8. Location

Evaluate the appropriateness of the institute’s location to the course and related industries.

9. Approvals

Students must ensure they are choosing an approved course of an approved institute.

10. Costs

The costs vary between institutes, and one must assess the worth of the benefits offered by institutes as compared to the costs.

Which assessments to check?

To facilitate selection of an institute, there is a ready source of data available, assessing institutions and providing rankings. These assessments are published by leading business houses, magazines and EdTech companies. However, these rankings are not completely reliable as they include only institutions which participate in the assessment process and often many key institutions are not assessed. Hence students have to refer to many assessments and use their judgement and discretion, while choosing an institute.

This challenge is somewhat mitigated with the National Ranking Information Framework (NIRF) published by the Ministry of Education, Government of India, from the year 2016. NIRF considers 5 key ranking parameters such as Teaching, Learning and Resources (TLR), Research & Professional Practice (RP), Outreach and inclusivity (OI), Graduation outcome (GO) and Perception (PR) and 22 key factors, within these parameters, while determining the rankings.

Thus, there’s a lot of data available on the quality of institutions, which enables students to decide the best institutions for the chosen course.

How to choose an institute?

Apart from ranking information, consider the following to make your analysis comprehensive:

1. Websites

A well-designed, user-friendly website with details of infrastructure as mentioned above, gives an authenticity to the rankings extracted from all sources.

2. Alumni Association

It’s a good idea to connect to alumni associations and get feedback from the members. Such connectivity also can help for internships, projects and also for placements. However, one should exercise some discretion while making an opinion based on feedback.

3. Corporate feedback

Establishing contacts with industries who regularly visit for placements will help in understanding the industry perception. Students must connect with industry professionals through LinkedIn and other professional networks and associations.

Finally, it’s worth visiting the campus of the chosen institute to get that assurance of being on the right track to build a passionate career.

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V Pradeep Kumar

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