B.Com remains the most sought-after course in a good number of colleges, but getting admission is not easy

As students queue up to submit application forms for the next transition in their life, there is an overwhelming sense of excitement and anxiety writ large on their faces. Their parents/guardians are equally tense. It is admission time in city colleges.

Around 159 arts and science colleges in and around Chennai affiliated to the University of Madras have set in motion the admission process for the new academic year.

With a range of courses in various streams and some re-inventing traditional courses, there is a lot of homework a student needs to do before taking a decision.

It appears that courses in pure science are bouncing back. More students have sought applications for such courses at The New College, its principal K.Altaff said. Alpha Arts and Science College has introduced B. Sc (Mathematics) this year.

G. Thiruvasagam, Vice-Chancellor, University of Madras, however, is not too pleased. “We have received applications seeking permission for setting up nine new colleges from the coming academic year. But, none of them is offering a course in basic science,” he said. Bringing in an inter-disciplinary approach in pure science subjects is one option that the university and its autonomous colleges are exploring to attract students. “Maybe, we should even think of offering a 50 per cent fee waiver for those taking pure science, but that is subject to the approval of the Syndicate,” he adds.

Elankumaran Kannan, Department of Physics, RMK Vivekananda College, says the curriculum must be revised in pure sciences and students should be trained in such a way that engineering and science students are on the same footing. “For instance, B.Sc (Physics) must be changed to Applied Physics,” he adds.

Such change in the nomenclature of courses is already happening in a few colleges. At Kumararani Meena Muthiah College of Arts and Science, for instance, Bachelors in Corporate Secretaryship has been renamed as B.Com (Corporate Secretaryship). Similarly, M.O.P. Vaishnav College for Women has scrapped the Nutrition and Dieticians course to start a B.Sc. in Food Science and Management, which has been received well by the industry.

With regard to new courses, the University of Madras's recent announcement about reviving under-graduate honours courses has generated considerable interest among the student community. They will be of four years duration and help those planning to pursue post-graduation abroad. Sources in the colleges, however, say that it is unlikely that these courses would be introduced this year as the procedures for launching them may take time.

Top of the chart

Courses in microbiology, biotechnology, biochemistry are also becoming popular. Ethiraj College for Women is introducing M.A. Inclusive Development and a diploma course in Tourist Guide this year.

B.Com remains the most sought-after course in a good number of colleges, but getting admission is not easy. T. Christina, who has applied for B.Com in three or four government colleges says “There are better job opportunities for those who have completed B.Com and B.Sc (Computer Science) and therefore getting admission to these courses is difficult.”

Students who have taken the CBSE 12th class examination are anxiously awaiting their results as many private colleges have announced the cut-off date for submitting the application forms. Nirmala Prasad, principal, MOP Vaishnav College for Women, says they have reserved a certain percentage of seats for CBSE students.

“As the government colleges will announce the merit list later than private colleges we do not have a choice but to pay the non-refundable initial deposit in one of the self-financing colleges,” says M. Rahana, the sister of an applicant.

J. Jothi Kumar, Joint Director, Directorate of Collegiate Education, says many colleges are yet to follow the single window admission system under which a student gets to apply to all the courses with the same application. “This year the State Board results also came in early. So, there are chances that many students will take up provisional admissions that aided colleges offer and would not risk waiting for the government college merit list,” he says.

First-generation learners find it difficult to fill the application forms and complete the formalities. “We had to travel twice from Ennore as we did not bring the community certificate. We would like it to be better organised and be given clear instructions when we receive the form,” says M. Priyanaka, an applicant at Bharathi Women's College, Broadway.

Many students are ignorant about the college scholarship programmes and the user-friendly features introduced by the Department of Collegiate Education. Details about the government-approved fee structure for different institutions, college admission rules, application fee and other details are available on its website – http://www.tndce.in.

“Two years ago we started an online facility for applying to courses. The response is yet to pick up, since people prefer to come in person and submit the application,” says V. Shanthi, head of Corporate Secretaryship department, Ethiraj College for Women.

“More than students parents require counselling, as they tend to become panicky about their children's future and get carried away by ‘trends',” says Jayasree Ghosh, principal of the Anna Adarsh College for Women.

What they say:

G. Thiruvasagam, Vice-Chancellor, University of Madras: In the mad rush for employment in the IT industry, students do not realise that many of these jobs are not permanent. The drastic fall in the availability of jobs was witnessed during the economic slow down. Students and institutions should realise the need to shift focus towards research in basic sciences and other inter-disciplinary programmes. A committee of subject experts is being constituted in the University to increase the awareness about pure sciences.

A.Anamicca, student: After staying in Singapore for ten years, I have come to India and the prospects of pursuing higher education look nice here. I am looking forward to pursuing a degree in one of the colleges in Chennai. The whole admission process and choosing from among the vast array of courses are making me learn so much. College years, every body says, are the best part of one's life. I am looking forward to studying new things and making new friends.

Nedunchezhian D, career counsellor: Only 50 to 60 per cent of students who join an engineering college complete their studies. Engineering is not the gateway for higher education. If you are really committed about pursuing sciences, pure science offers ample scope. Inter-disciplinary and trans-disciplinary courses are the current trend in India and abroad, which one can pursue after an under-graduation programme. Make sure you get quality education even if it means leaving to a different city or state.