Set up nearly two years ago, the Islamic University of Science and Technology has its task cut out: the university will not aim to be a centre for knowledge but a centre for job-oriented education. Years of insurgency have shrunk economic opportunities in Jammu and Kashmir, forcing hundreds of young men and women to migrate for work every year. The unemployment rate in the state was 4.21% last year compared with the national average of 3.09%, according to an economic survey by the state government. The per capita income was Rs17,174, against the national average of Rs25,907. 'The whole idea,' says the university's vice-chancellor Siddiq Wahid, 'is job orientation, because 95% of those who come to this university go on to work. So this is just like an industry turning out candidates for jobs.'
Wahid said he did not agree with Islamic being attached to the university's name. 'It was a terrible name, with prejudice bordering on bigotry in this country.' He said it was not a very good idea but they still decided to go ahead with it. 'People come here expecting something else because of the name and they are surprised to find that we are nothing like that.' The university also offers spoken Arabic courses to students specializing in tourism and plans to extend it to bachelor of technology, or B. Tech, students from next year. The idea of teaching Arabic to technology students came following interactions with Wipro Ltd, India's third largest computer services provider, said Wahid. 'They were looking for technically sound people who could speak Arabic. They also asked us if we could give them a finishing course, so that we were not turning out complete geeks,' he said. Wipro officials were not immediately available for comment.