Delhi University (DU) has been ranked as one of the best universities in the country for the past few years now. With the university web ranking giving it the 5th spot in India and Ministry of Human Resource Development giving it the 6th place in its National Institutional Ranking Framework, DU is the most sought after university for students looking either of the undergraduate or postgraduation programmes.
Where traditionally, North Campus was the most sought after location for studies, but with the high cut-offs, not all could afford them, so settling for an off-campus college was the last resort. With admissions just round the corner, it seems interesting that over the last few years, the demand for off-campus colleges is on a rise and the mindset about these colleges seem to change. Not only parents, but also the aspirants agree that it is the course that matters and not the name.
Convenient locations and specialised courses have resulted in students’ preferring more and more south and off campus colleges. The National Academic and Accreditation Council (NAAC) ratings proved that these colleges are emerging as the ‘next big thing’.
Better infrastructure, varied courses, sprawling campuses, well-qualified teachers, metro connectivity and extracurricular activities is prompting the students to prefer off-campus over on-campus colleges.
“For me the infrastructure and faculty were more important than famous names,” says Isbah Lone, a student of Biochemistry at Shivaji College. “I preferred this over others because the faculty is really amazing and the labs are well equipped. The metro has made it easier to travel and our theatre society Vayam gives us an amazing exposure’’ she added. Shivaji, a co-ed college situated in Raja Garden, provides a good range of courses across streams. One of them is a self-financed BBE course and PG courses in Hindi, Sanksrit and Political Science.
Shama Mitra Chenoy, Professor of History, talks about a unique system of every department holding an annual seminar at both national and international levels. Most recently an international seminar on Acculturation: religion, Society, Language was successfully organised. She added, “Our theatre society, Vayam has put up three street and stage plays which were highly appreciated in the University of Delhi. Apart from dramatics, the college aces in debating with Dictum – the debating society.”
Shashi Tyagi, the principal of Gargi College, says that it is just the name that drives the students to North Campus. Boasting of alumni like Huma Qureshi, Urvashi Rautela amongst others, she asserts firmly: “We have been awarded with the star college status for our Biotechnology department and the recent NAAC grading shows our academic performance. Gargi has always been best at undergraduate research and our teachers are awarded international scholarships.
The ECA activities have also brought laurels to the college.’’ One of the best colleges for women, Gargi offers education in Arts and Humanities, Commerce, Science and Education. The street play society Kshitij and the Choreography society Sparx are known names in the university circuit. Reverie – the annual festival has constantly been named amongst the top five best festivals in Delhi University. With well-equipped labs, fully furnished auditorium and places like Select City walk and Hauz Khas in the vicinity, it remains a popular choice amongst girls.
Maharaja Agrasen College, popularly known as ‘MAC’ is one of the five colleges to offer Journalism and Mass Communication course at the undergraduate level. Located in Vasundhara Enclave, this college boasts of excellent infrastructure along with academic brilliance. Being amongst those few colleges that offer hostel facility for girls, MAC has an impressive record of International Conferences. With the debating and dramatics societies dominating the campus arena, MAC has made a name for itself. The college also has well equipped media labs, conference rooms and auditorium.
Not only academics and extracurricular activities, another popular criterion that affects the choice of colleges is the location and the ‘happening’ areas around it. Shaheed Bhagat Singh, located in Sheikh Sarai, is known as the ‘SRCC of South Campus’ owing to its excellent B.Com programme. “We have places like Select City walk, DLF, Hauz Khas, Malviya Nagar and a PVR nearby. Our college offers us great opportunities to grow as we have two shifts, evening and morning, we get the chance to pursue other activities,’’ says Sushant Pandey, a third year student of English Honors.
Recently the college organised an International Conference which gave the students an opportunity to interact and get equipped with knowledge about diverse career avenues. The music society and the dramatics society have been garnering applause wherever they go, though it has just been a few years since they have made a name for themselves, but they continue to keep growing.
The auditorium is still in construction phase and infrastructure still needs to be improved, however excellent faculty and metro connectivity makes the college a preferred choice among students.
Acharya Narendra Dev College (ANDC) of Govind Puri, marked a successful debut in the NAAC grading system, acing it in the very year of being enrolled. Savitri Singh, Principal of ANDC, proudly said, “We want our students to explore their talents. Our main focus is to build their confidence and support them.” The college has a Student’s Aid Fund, to render financial assistance to the needful and deserving students. An interesting scheme, EARN WHILE YOU LEARN, encourages students to work in the college for a stipend.
In spite of being a science college it promotes Theatre and Entrepreneurship programs like ANDC. The most active committee of the college, NSS unit, holds a Blood Donation and Thalassemia Camp annually that works with GTB Hospital to collect blood for patients.
The college also bagged 1st prize for Good Practices in Antardhwani. Nitish Malhotra, a student, says “facilities are great here, and teachers are dedicated. The elite fellowship programme ensures that students are given a chance to pursue research at an undergraduate level. Think Lab, our science society allows the students to carry any project they wish to do, though the infrastructure is not well developed.” Currently there are PHD and Msc. courses too which are doing exceptionally well.
Though the ‘off-campus’ colleges are still in their evolving stage, but over the years, they have successfully developed a brand value for themselves. Arham, who is waiting to get into Delhi University says, “I really want to study Psychology and for me the name of college does not matter. I won’t study in a famous North Campus college just for the sake of it. For me the facilities and academics are of utmost importance.”