MAKING THE CUT The course offered at IISc has met with good response, while BU has seen fewer applications

Three years ago, two leading institutes in Bangalore, the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and the Bangalore University (BU), proposed a novel idea: a four-year Bachelors of Science course, which aimed at looking at undergraduate science education with a fresh perspective.

While BU beat IISc to the punch by starting the course in 2010, with an intake of 80, spread out in four colleges — this has now been hiked to 120 seats in six colleges — it has faced some teething troubles in terms of infrastructure and a relatively low response. IISc’s course actually received as many as 16,000 applications when it was launched in 2011.

Compared to the 76 applications BU received for its 50 government quota seats last year, this response is phenomenal, and perhaps could be attributed to the fact that IISc is a premiere science and research institute. However, this year, IISc’s numbers have reportedly climbed down to around 11,000, though this has been attributed to a higher cut-off mark set by the institute. IISc’s intake is 120.

While admissions to IISc is based on the marks or rank secured in any one of the four entrance exams — namely, the Kishore Vaigyanik Protsahan Yojana (KVPY), IIT-JEE, AIEEE, and AIPMT — Bangalore University calls for applications and draws its own merit list. Both courses are modelled around the California Institute of Technology's course. The course, besides focusing on research, also allows students to take up credit courses in the humanities, such as history, philosophy and sociology. Both varsities focus on an inter-disciplinary approach to science here. The idea is to introduce a “holistic approach” to science undergraduate education.

M. S. Reddy, the coordinator (academics) of this course at the Bangalore University, explains that in the first two years, students are put through rigorous training and studies in mathematics, biology, physics and chemistry. Until the third year, they study these subjects, along with a few ancillary subjects, and it is only in the third year that they can choose to specialise and choose one subject as a major, he explains. He says the attempt is to emulate the credit-based, multi-disciplinary system that is followed in American varsities. Learning two foreign languages was also part of the designed curriculum.