54.5 per cent of students enrolled in 2012-13 are girls
In a trend that could give a new dimension to the field of agricultural education as well as research and extension, the number of girls securing admission to the University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore, has not only increased steadily, but has surpassed that of boys.
The number of girl students joining various degree courses of the university, which was a man’s domain till recently, has slowly been increasing in the last few years. However, the academic years of 2011-12 and 2012-13 turned out to be landmark ones. Girls outnumbered boys marginally in 2011-12, accounting for 50.39 per cent of students admitted to undergraduate courses.
What followed in 2012-13, the new academic year which has just begun, was domination of girls in agricultural courses, accounting for 54.5 per cent of the students admitted to various degree courses.
UAS, Bangalore, Vice-Chancellor K. Narayana Gowda said this was a positive trend. An agricultural extension expert himself, he said it would go a long way in taking agricultural extension services to farm women.
“Women farmers play a crucial role in Indian agriculture, though they do not come to the limelight most often. But it has not been possible for the extension wing to reach out to them effectively as most of the rural women are not comfortable with interacting with extension workers and experts, who are mostly men. In this context, having women experts will help win the confidence of farm women and link them with the latest technologies and innovations,” Prof. Gowda said.
At the same time, he was cautious about the fact that working women normally face pressure from family members to desist from working in rural areas as it would be difficult for them to manage their family responsibilities and also commute to rural areas.
“If farm women have to be helped, then our women agricultural experts should be willing to go to villages,” he said.
Meanwhile, UAS, Bangalore, senior information specialist L. Ramakrishna Rao linked the increase in the number of girl students enrolling for courses in agricultural sciences to the increase in demand for these courses ever since the uncertainty factor caught up with the information technology (IT) sector following economic slowdown.
Such is the demand for the courses in agricultural sciences that students shun engineering seats to join them. The fact that 91.5 per cent (for general merit category) was the cut-off level for joining agricultural graduate courses in Bangalore this year and 84.67 per cent for admission to these courses in other branches of the university demonstrates that agricultural education is attracting the best of talents of late.
He also pointed out that job opportunities, especially high-paying ones, were increasing for agricultural sciences graduates.
Substantiating this, associate professor A. Mohan Rao, who worked as coordinator for the university’s placement cell, said that on an average, about 150 students were being recruited since the last three years by various prestigious companies, including nationalised banks, through campus recruitments alone. In addition, there were other job opportunities besides avenues in higher education and starting their own agricultural enterprises. About 250 students get jobs in various government departments each year, he said.
The highest salary commitment made through campus recruitment was about Rs. 5.2 lakh a year, while the average salary was around Rs. 4 lakh a year, which was higher than what an average IT fresher would get, he said.