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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)


 SC scraps K'nataka order on PG medical seats

From Our Correspondent
On April 4 the Supreme Court declared as invalid the Karnataka government notification necessitating 10-year study in the state as a precondition for admission to postgraduate medical/dental college government quota seats.

A bench of Justice Arun Mishra and Justice U U Lalit ordered the Karnataka government and Karnataka Examinations Authority (KEA) to "suitably modify and amend" the Information Bulletin of March 10 and republish the calendar of events for the admission process for NEET-PG 2018.

According to Clause 4 of the Information Bulletin jointly issued by Karnataka's Directorate of Medical Education, and Karnataka Examination Authority the eligibility criteria, among others, for government quota seats included Karnataka domicile and either of their parents must have resided or studied in the state for a minimum of 10 years.

The court allowed the writ petition filed by Dr Kriti Lakhina and 43 other candidates, who belonged to other states but had completed their MBBS and BDS courses from Karnataka's medical colleges after securing their admission on the basis of all-India quota. They contended that the condition of domicile for admission to MD, MS and postgraduate Diploma seats in Karnataka was invalid and unconstitutional.

Delivering the judgement the bench relied heavily on two cases -- the Pradeep Jain case and Vishal Goyal and Others vs State of Karnataka and others. The court said that "the State of Karnataka in its written submissions sought to justify the action but did not explain how the decision in Vishal Goyal would not be applicable in the present case."

Opposing the contention, the Medical Council of India (MCI) pointed out that the Karnataka government had brought a similar Information Bulletin in 2014 with identical eligibility criteria, which the Supreme Court had set aside in the case of 'Vishal Goyal' saying preference based on domicile would be violative of the principle of equality.

The court had then agreed that the Information Bulletin for PGET-2014 did not actually give institutional preference to students who had passed MBBS/BDS from colleges or universities in Karnataka but made some of them ineligible to take the entrance test. It had then held the said clause as ultra vires of Article 14 (equality) of the Constitution and declared the conditions as null and void.

Earlier on March 27 the Supreme Court had specifically told Karnataka government to stop taking any step on its Karnataka Examination Authority notification dated March 10.

Engg stream slump, 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)


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