Marine Engineering graduates, from the so-called best institute of not only the country but Asia as well, are expected to land a job in the sector without many difficulties. But this isn’t the tale of Indian Maritime University Kolkata Campus (IMU KC), also known as MERI (Marine Engineering and Research Institute) and DMET.
In a conversation with IMU KC students in B.Tech program, I was informed that the campus was visited by only nine companies of which two companies are non-shipping companies for a batch of about 250 cadets.
As of now, only 89 out of 250 cadets are placed from the college. Few have sought job opportunities from off-campus but with little success.
“It seems as if DMET has lost all its glory,” said a student. “Salaries are getting very low, only a few get placement opportunities from college. Officials want us to prepare for UPSC and another competitive exam. But that’s not what we forked Rs. 9 lakh for. We could have done simple 3-year graduation if we wanted to do UPSC.” he added.
“I carry the load of a massive Rs. 9 lakh loan over my shoulders. How do I repay my debt”, asked a student with anger and frustration over his face.
Apart from the academic and hostel charge of Rs 9 lakhs for four years, students also pay Rs. 500 for every theory paper conducted in the university. Up to last year, textbooks and notebooks were distributed among the students by the college but not anymore. Despite graduating from college, the students have to take professional courses like OCTO and LGTF so that they get eligible to board Oil Tankers and Gas carriers respectively, the fees for which costs around Rs. 8000.
“We were promised a high paying uniform job. I sincerely hoped for a job profile with which I could help my family get rid of poverty, but I couldn’t even try for placements,” said a student.
Students have reported that they are given a cold treatment by prospective employers when they try to secure a job off-campus.
At present, the grand old giant and once prestigious institute of the Maritime Industry is unable to find two-thirds of her students sailing jobs which are essential to complete sea-time training. As a rule, the students cannot graduate without sea time training but now the college has found an escape route to this and is training the cadets at Kolkata Port.
The question here is that why is the college allowed to admit so many students to whom it cannot provide sea time training also.
Recently, the Directorate General of Shipping instructed all pre-sea training institutes to submit placement records of candidates and allow the intake of only as many cadets in the institute to whom they can guarantee sea time training. With such placement figures, one can only wonder how come IMU KC is being allowed to enroll over 250 cadets every year.
When we asked the students about training at Kolkata Port, this is what they had to say, “Will the training at Kolkata Port make us eligible for Class 4 examinations? The answer is a big no.”. He further added, “The college is just getting off the hook by doing this as it has to get rid of us in order to enroll new cadets.”
In times of COVID-19 lockdown, the college has started online simulation and online class arrangement in order to distribute degrees.
“Degree is very important to us as we have to start looking for jobs in another sector as well”, a student at IMU KC said. “I always imagined myself on a ship and not on a desk but here I am”, he added.
On the official site of IMU KC, it is stated that the institute offers 100% placement. The reality, however, begs to differ. In the report submitted to DG Shipping in 2018, the institute claims to have placed around 225 cadets from the institute but the truth is that most of the companies mentioned in the list do not visit the college and the placement had been secured by the students on their own merits.
Thus, the institute has indulged in a sort of admission scam whereby wrong data about placements is being floated around so that more and more cadets take admission in the institute but a secure future is promised to only a few.