Pure science courses have fewer takers now, as many opt for an engineering degree

It’s not just the predictable degree courses that draw students’ attention anymore. From programmes on performing arts and crafts offered by organisations such as Kalakshetra and Dakshin Chitra to the niche course on humanities - an integrated, inter-disciplinary five year course offered by IIT- Madras, both, autonomous institutions and colleges affiliated to the universities here have been making attempts to attract students to the city. Increasingly, they have been revamping existing courses and offering new ones to keep in tune with changing times and trends.

Of late, it is visual communication that seems to be the favourite among students. “It is connected to the growing potential of commerce. Students know every firm needs an advertising agency,” says Prince Annadurai, admission in charge, Madras Christian College.

This year, courses including computer mathematics, food processing, foot wear and bag designing and insurance subjects are among the new ones offered by some colleges in Chennai.

Also fascinating is the surge in the number of schools that offer courses on film making, photography and cinematography. “This has come up in the last few years, but very few of these courses actually train the student to be a film maker. Mostly, they prepare them for the extended media outside, for instance, making videos, designing ad campaigns for films, or for being skilled as technicians,” says film maker and critic K. Hariharan.

In an attempt to revampcourses, colleges are focussing on subjects such as plant bio technology, nutrition and food service managements in place of conventional courses such as botany and home science. The demand for courses such as BBA, BCA and BSc (computer science) is high, as graduates are often picked up by IT companies for their back end operations, according to college officials.

“The course we introduced last year on B. Com Cost Accounting offers students a professional degree. She does not have to wait for another year after graduation and the college provides coaching too. Students now look forward to some additional component in their courses,” says Nirmala Prasad, principal, M.O.P. Vaishnav College for Women, giving an another instance of such a course.

“But the courses also need to have a placement value,” she adds.

In engineering, however, the interest in interdisciplinary courses such as instrumentation and mecha-tronics has not picked up the way it has in other States. “Students want to be safe here, and they are somewhat certain about their interests. The first preferences are mostly EEE or computer science or civil or mechanical,” says G. Ravi Prasad, professor, Anna University.

The demand for pure sciences seems to be going down. “It is very easy for a science student to get an engineering seat,” says Mr. Annadurai. “But the good thing is we have started getting students genuinely interested in research in subject such as botany and zoology,” he adds.

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