Many treat arts and science courses as back-up and move to professional courses later

They might enrol in an arts and science college simply as a back-up option and attend classes in college till an engineering college seat beckons. Cautious of students who take a transfer certificate in the middle of a term, many arts and science colleges are filtering out these students before giving admissions. Faculty members of arts and science colleges say students who have scored above 95 per cent in the science stream are generally not considered, as they are more likely to get into an engineering college.

Some colleges counsel students to find out if they really have an inclination towards pure sciences and would pursue the course. “We also talk to parents on the options for their wards after a degree programme,” says Shyamala Kanakarajan, vice-principal, Ethiraj College for Women.

S. Revathi has applied for a B.Sc programme in two city colleges, although she aspires to be a Computer Science Engineer. “If luck favours me in the engineering counseling, my dream will come true,” she says.

Gulsar Ahamed, a student of the College of Engineering, Guindy, had got admissions to the integrated five-year humanities course at IIT-M but he chose the engineering course. “I do not regret the decision to go ahead with the engineering programme,” he says.

“At least 20 per cent of students from every department leave the degree courses to join engineering colleges. We do not prevent them as we do not want them to stay back and dream about a career in engineering,” says Indra Rajasingh, head, Department of Mathematics, Loyola College. Colleges say they take in an additional number of students in every department, anticipating that some might leave.

The top arts and science colleges do not have many students leaving them, says A. Subramanian, member of the admission committee, Madras Christian College. “If the stipulated strength for a class is 50, we have an estimate of the number of students who are likely to leave from each department. But that would be only two to three students,” he says.

It is not only basic science courses that are affected, as students who take up arts courses also migrate. “Students who have scored a lower percentage apply for arts streams. They could move out and join lesser-known engineering colleges,” he says.

However, with the abolition of the entrance examinations to professional courses, colleges have seen a downward shift in this trend. “Since the Class XII marks is considered for admission to professional courses, there is better clarity among students on whether they will secure seats in engineering courses. Students with high marks do not apply and wait for counselling,” says S. Narasimhan, Principal, Dwaraka Doss Goverdhan Vaishnav College.

The colleges do not lose out on seats since the University of Madras generally extends the date of admissions to the course and those in the waiting list are taken in. Mujeera Fathima, Head, Department of Plant Botany and Plant Biotechnology, Government Arts College, Nandanam, says: “In government colleges there are ‘verandah admissions' in which students are asked to assemble on a particular day before the last date of admissions and based on the ranks, those present fill up the available seats.”