Orissa has always been a land of culture and quality education. But somewhere down the line, till a few years ago, the development of educational institutions in the state was completely overlooked by the central government. The recent discovery of the ruins of Puspagiri University, one of the oldest universities in the country establishes the fact that Orissa had also nurtured education even in ancient times. This was the university where students from across the world would come to study Philosophy, Mathematics, Astronomy and Science. Puspagiri University had also found a mention in the journals of the Chinese traveler Huien Tsang when he visited India in the 7th century.
It was under the British rule that the first primary school in the state was set up in 1822. This was followed by another matriculation school, a girl’s school in 1873 and then a medical school in 1876 and finally an industrial school in 1884. Utkal University, the 17th oldest university in India was established in 1943 in Bhubaneswar.
Today, the state boasts of 12 state universities, one central university, three institutes of national importance that is IIT, NIT and NISER, two private deemed universities, and hundreds of government aided and private colleges that offer education in every field.
Lately, it’s become the state government’s initiative to ensure every deserving candidate gets an opportunity to higher education. It has also taken steps to improve the quality of teaching that is on par with the best in the country and the world. According to the government’s 2010 plans, its goal is to set up additional universities and colleges including medical and engineering colleges as well as Research Centres in the state through public and private partnership.
Post independence till 2007, in the five decades gone by, there was a wide spread criticism of the central government in setting up educational institutions of higher learnings in Orissa. This had caused the state to lag behind other states in terms of infrastructure, poverty reduction, literacy, education, and health until very recently.
Today, Orissa and Bhubaneswar in particular is home to several educational and research institutions of state and national importance as well as over 100 other private colleges geared towards engineering, biotechnology, information technology and management. Almost all the engineering, pharmacy, architecture and most of the colleges offering MBA degree programmes are either constituent or affiliated colleges of Biju Patnaik University of Technology, Rourkela, which was created by an act of the Orissa state legislature in the year 2002.
Today, the university has around 58,000 students. The disciplines include engineering and architecture, business management and hotel management, computer studies and pharmacy. Bhubaneswar also hosts thousands of private vocational Training Centers for Computer Software & Hardware Training like Lakshya, JavaPoint, ISDAC, Interface etc.
Bhubaneswar is now emerging as a national education hub that is also being promoted as an Information Technology Investment Region (ITIR) by the state government. The reason for the state and central government towards such a big step has been the growing industrialization in the state. The state boasts of big companies like Infosys, Satyam, Wipro, Vedanta, Arcelor Mittal, Posco, Tata Consultancy, Tata Steel etc including quite a number of multinational companies which has set its base in Orissa. The reason these companies have set up shop in Bhubaneswar is the easy acquisition of land and other resources as compared to other parts of the country. This growth directly resulted in the growth of education sector as the need for quality and educated manpower increased.
According to the All India Council for Technical Education, while West Bengal has 71 engineering and technical institutions, Orissa has 68. Similar is the case for MBA, MCA and pharmacy institutes as well.
Also, when it comes to the number of proposals for new technical institutes (as on December 31, 2008), Orissa is miles ahead with 94 while West Bengal has just 35. Most of the new institutions that are going to be set up will be in and around the state’s capital, Bhubaneswar.
The existing and upcoming institutions have also resulted in the rise of quality of education. This in turn has helped the students get the best of offers from big companies in the city and around. The setting up of an Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Bhubaneswar has added greatly to the quality of education imparted in the state and Bhubaneswar in particular.
However, despite the visible growth in the number of engineering colleges, Orissa seems to be lagging behind where medical education is concerned.. The state has only three medical colleges, all government run. But the scene is gradually changing for the better with additional medical colleges being planned by the state as well as revamping old ones.
The good part is that almost all institutes that have come up in recent times have huge campuses with great hostel facilities for the students. Bhubaneswar also offers students cheap accommodation as well as cuisines from all parts of the country.
The setting of Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bhubaneswar in 2008 was a historic event for the people of Orissa. For a long time, the people of Orissa had been demanding for an IIT and it was only in 2007, the plan for the IIT Bhubaneswar got the go ahead with the foundation stone for the permanent campus of the Institute being laid in 2009. Currently, its operating from a temporary campus in Bhubaneswar.
But the buck doesn’t stop with the engineering, management, medical colleges and research centres. A lot of leading animation and multimedia institutes and colleges in India have plans of setting up branches in Orissa to meet the growing demands of Animators and 3D artists. The courses they’ll offer will open up new windows for the youngsters in the field of 3D designing and animation.
With the rise in education and the quality of it, Orissa has fared reasonably well in terms of literacy rates. The overall literacy rate is 68.8%, just a fraction ahead of the national average of 67.8%. It has also become one of the most advanced education centre of India with students not only from various parts of India but also from foreign countries flocking to the various educational institutions.
Other then IIT Bhubaneswar, there are institutes like Utkal University, Vani Vihar which is the leading university of the state and once had the distinction of being the largest university in the world in terms of colleges affiliated to it.
Xavier Institute of Management, Bhubaneswar (XIMB) is one of the premier business schools in India and also a global figure in imparting quality management education.
University Law College, Vani Vihar, Bhubaneswar is one of the oldest and a very renowned law college which has produced leading lawyers and justices in Orissa.
International Institute of Information & Technology (IIIT), Bhubaneswar is a newly built technical college of the state, affiliated to the Biju Patnaik University of Technology to impart IT education in state and soon its going to become autonomous.
C. V. Raman College of Engineering at Mahura, Bhubaneswar is one of the best private technical colleges with huge infrastructure, affiliated to the Biju Patnaik University of Technology. The Institute provides the highest quality technical education in the streams of Engineering, Management, and Computer.
College Of Engineering & Technology at Khandagiri is the most prestigious state-run technical college of the state, affiliated to the Biju Patnaik University of Technology. Besides BTech courses in seven disciplines, it offers MCA, MTech and degrees in architecture.
Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology University (KIIT) holds the distinction of being the first private university of Orissa. It was first set up as an institution in 1997 and declared an university in 2004. Currently it houses 15,000 students in about 50 academic programmes.
The top medical colleges in and around Bhubaneswar include the S.C.B. Medical College, Cuttack, Sri Ram Chandra Bhanja Medical College, Cuttack, and Vigrabi Medical College, Bhubaneswar.
Kalinga Institute of Medical Sciences under the KIIT University also offers a medical degree. Bhubaneswar is also home to several dental, pharmacy, alternate medicine and nursing schools. With the state government’s plan to increase the number of medical professionals, many more medical colleges are being set up across Orissa.
For now and the future, the prospects of getting good quality education in every field in Orissa and specially Bhubaneswar is extremely high not just for the youths of the state of Orissa but also across the country and outside. Furthermore, there is an added advantage of studying in Bhubaneswar as major tourist attractions such as the Konark temple, Puri sea beach, Chilka lagoon, gorges, a waterfall, and other natural wonders are well within reach. Nothing beats mixing pleasure with studies.