The number of varsities offering specialized courses for higher studies has seen a steady rise in the state; infact, it is one of the novelties that the former Gujarat chief minister and now Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke of frequently in his public speeches. Ironically, Gujarat has been lagging when it comes to churning out students qualifying for top institutes, but that is now steadily changing.
Today, most colleges offering specialized courses like design, communication technology or petroleum engineering, admit to a moderate rise in students from Gujarat enrolling in various degree programmes. The typical Gujarati acumen to join the family business after a BCom seems to slowly lose its flavour for the young blood.
National Institute of Design (NID), the country's top design institute located in Paldi, saw 15 out of 100 students from Gujarat in its UG course in 2013. This was from a meager 9 in 2009. "We have an international curriculum with a great campus environment. The location is an added bonus for students who belong here," said Vijaya Deshmukh, registrar, NID.
Academicians from Dhirubhai Ambani Institute of Information and Communication Technology (DA-IICT) agree. The UG batch saw a rise of 182 students with Gujarat domicile in 2013 from 120 in 2009. "With the increase in awareness about higher studies and with opportunities available in the state, students from Gujarat are taking interest in enrolling themselves in quality programs," said Prof Suman Mitra, dean, academic affairs, DA-IICT.
According to Gujarat National Law University (GNLU), Gujarat provides a safe heaven to students. GNLU, that had 21 Gujarati students in 2009, recorded 52 such students in 2013. "Gujarat provides an academically conducive environment for students; safety, security and discipline standards are all top notch," said Bimal Patel, director, GNLU.
At Mica, India's top school offering strategic marketing and communication, says the data indicates a modest increase from 2% to 8% in Gujarati students. "There is an increased importance of strategic marketing and communication in business organisations irrespective of the size. Given the popular perception that Gujaratis have the best business acumen, there is a faster acceptance of any skill or knowledge that will foster growth in business," said Dr Anita Basalingappa, chairperson, Mica admission committee.
Students want to meet global standards Saumil Chandira, a chemical engineering student at Pandit Deendayal Petroleum University, said, "I want to join my father's business, but will expand it using the latest knowledge. For that reason, just a BCom won't do." He added, "Our competition is now global and not local, so it's important to get exposed to the latest in specialized fields."
A Nirma University student, Chandani Kela, agrees. "We are now realizing that with a little dedication and hard work, we can study in great institutes available in our state. Gujaratis are good at grasping concepts and that helps in higher education."