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Interest in basic science alarmingly low, says survey

Ramzauva Chhakchhuak and Shruthi H M
BANGALORE : Lack of career counselling, increasing dropout rates in Pre-University and a temptation to join professional courses are not only discouraging students from studying pure science but also affecting both school education and creation of a new pool of scientists, according to the recently released ‘Economic Survey of Karnataka 2013-14’.

Out of the total 5,64,552 enrolments for I PU in 2012-13, as many as 2,22,848 students joined arts, 1,53,917 science and 1,87,787 commerce. The problem, however, is that even students who opt for science courses mostly prefer professional courses while only a handful opt for pure sciences.

The enrolment in degree courses in 2013-14 also indicates that fewer students are opting for science. While 2,38,804 students enrolled for BA, BSW courses and 2,17,519 opted for BCom, BBM, just 63,507 chose BSc and BCA put together.

The survey notes: “Graduate science courses serve as nurseries for preparation and supply for science teachers for secondary schools, as well as for creation of pool of scientists in the country. Both school education and scientific pursuits suffer because of this trend.” A variety of incentives such as the integrated five-year degree course need to be “emulated and expanded”, it adds.

Dr Venkateshappa, principal, Government Science College, says students consider employability before choosing to study a course. “Commerce graduates find jobs easily but science students ask ‘what will they get after studying BSc, especially when even engineering graduates are ready to work for Rs 12,000’,” he explained.

“Thus, the chances of a BSc graduate getting a job appear slim. The problem is compounded by the fact that universities do no regularly update the science syllabi. Even basic facilities such as lab equipment are inadequate.” The government grant of Rs one lakh for labs is also grossly inadequate. This means, even science teachers may have poor or no knowledge of the subject, he added.

Sharath Ananthamurthy, professor of physics at Bangalore University, attributes the problem to the lack of human resources and the inability to groom students. “Many rural students choose pure sciences because they cannot afford to study professional technical education. But it is wrong to assume that rural students do not do well. The real problem is that the courses do not address creative aspects in science.”

Ananthamurthy, however, said the concern was not limited to pure sciences. “What is being achieved in engineering education? Students move on to management courses and go for softer options later. There is a crisis in technical education too. The problem in general is about how undergraduate and postgraduate studies are designed.”

According to him, the solution lies in redesigning the courses and offering subjects the country could benefit from, instead of being confined to imitative courses. Moreover, universities needed to aggressively hire talent and establish close links with research institutes so that the best scientists get to teach graduate courses, he said.
(Courtesy  : The Deccan Herald)


 Slump in engg stream, 135 courses shut in 5 years

By Ramzauva Chhakchhuak
Technical and engineering colleges in Karnataka have been discontinuing 20-30 courses every year since 2012-13. In all, 135 courses were shut down in the last five years. The trend reflects declining demand for engineering education.

This year, a prestigious institute likes RV College of Engineering shut down two courses in the architecture stream: BArch (Town Planning) and M.Arch (Urban Design).

In all, at least 25 courses have been discontinued this academic year, 19 of them are undergraduate and postgraduate engineering programmes, according to the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE). This year, Dr P G Halakatti College of Engineering and Technology, Vijayapura, discontinued three BE courses: civil, mechanical, and electrical and electronics engineering. It also discontinued MCA programmes.

The interest for engineering courses has plummeted over the last few years. A point to note is that many courses that were closed down are not very popular, such as Instrumentation Technology and Environmental Engineering.

In 2015-16, the situation was equally grim for engineering courses. A total of 29 courses were shut down that year; 25 of them at undergraduate, postgraduate and diploma levels. Ten of these courses were shut down by engineering colleges in Bengaluru itself.

For example, Nagarjuna College of Engineering and Technology, Devanahalli, shut down four courses: two BE courses in civil and mechanical engineering, and two programmes at the postgraduate level.

Similarly, as many as 23 courses were shut down in 2014-15; 20 of them in engineering streams at undergraduate, postgraduate or diploma levels. In 2013-14, 28 courses were shut down, most of them at the undergraduate engineering level. In 2012-13, as many as 30 courses, mostly belonging to diploma in engineering, were shut down.

Karan Kumar H, a member of Visvesvaraya Technological University's (VTU) executive council, attributed the trend of closing down the courses to demand-supply mismatch and a lack of awareness.

"First of all, there are too many engineering colleges in the state. On average, only 65-70% of the seats in these colleges get filled. There is also a lack of awareness about niche courses that may have a different reach," he said. (Courtesy : Deccan Herald)

Pvt colleges ditch Karnataka govt, opt NEET

From Our Correspondent
In a quick about-turn on May 27, the Karnataka Professional Colleges Foundation (KPCF) blatantly ditched the Karnataka state government and announced that its member colleges would pick students from the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) merit list.

This, in effect, means that the Karnataka government would lose 1,200 seats in private medical and dental colleges.

KPCF is a conglomeration of professional medical, dental and engineering colleges, which were earlier under ComedK (Consortium of Medical, Engineering and Dental Colleges of Karnataka) and jointly conducted their own admission test.

Addressing reporters in Bengaluru on May 27, KPCF members said all the seats would be announced only through NEET, thereby meaning that the 40 per cent seat reservation for state's students in private colleges under the Karnataka Common Entrance Test quota will stand cancelled. 

Announcing the sudden decision on May 27, Dr M B Jayaram, KPCF secretary said : "In view of the Supreme Court judgment, admissions to undergraduate courses in MBBS and BDS for 2016-17 shall be made on the basis of merit from eligible students (candidates who have scored 50 per cent or more marks in NEET)."

According to an agreement between Karnataka state government and private college owners 40 per cent of the total seats in 12 medical and 24 dental colleges were state government seats. There are 1,500 medical and as many dental seats in private colleges.

Driving home his point Jayaram said that in keeping with the Apex Court guidelines, 15 per cent seats in private colleges would be reserved for Non-Resident Indian (NRI) candidates. Of the renaming 85 per cent seats, 42 per cent would be for SC, ST and OBC students. The remaining can be availed by the general merit category. “First preference would be given to SC and then ST. If it is not filled, it would be given to OBC students. The remaining seats would be given to the general category,” he said.

KPCF’s announcement has taken the Karnataka government by surprise. It is expected to announce rankings for medical, dental and engineering based on CET results on May 28. Private colleges have said that the CET rankings will have no effect on their admissions, which will be based on NEET. The State has 16 government medical colleges, including new ones at Dharwad, Kodagu and Chamarajanagar, with 2,200 seats.

Dr Sharan Prakash Patil, Minister for Medical Education, said the state government would consult the Law Department to decide the next course of action. “They have already signed an agreement for seat sharing. There is also an act in place for this. The concession in fee was an outcome of the agreement. Now, we have to see the implications of the Union government ordinance,” Patil said.

Spelling out details of the new move a KPCF spokesman said that this year NEET will replace the COMEDK-Undergraduate Entrance Test (UGET), making it necessary for medical seat aspirants to write NEET– II, if they have not written NEET–I. The counselling, however, will be conducted by the COMEDK as usual, after the announcement of NEET results. The process will be supervised by the admission overseeing committee of the government, they said.

Regarding fees, COMEDK Chief Executive A.S. Srikanth said, “The fee fixation committee formed by the government will decide. If there has to be a concession for candidates under the reservation, the government will decide. We have no say on this. But all students coming through the NEET route will be paying the same fee.”


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