Special Correspondent

Plan is to open engineering schools to offer post-B.Sc, B.Tech., M.Tech. degrees

  • It will entail Government funding of about Rs. 1,700 crore
  • Students can make more informed decisions

    Bangalore: Science academicians feel that the low morale of B.Sc. students is a "worrying feature" of the higher education scenario.

    A large number of college students pursuing B.Sc. degrees, several of them talented and motivated, feel `left out' and `discarded' by the system. Most of them pursue their degrees without any enthusiasm or motivation and are constantly looking for opportunities to change to `professional streams.' Young students should be freed from the "excessive pressure" of studies in class 12 and should not have to choose subjects under "parental pressure."

    Two premier science academies have strongly advocated a plan to open 20 engineering schools that would offer a post-B.Sc., two-year B.Tech. degree, followed by a two-year M.Tech. programme, to boost the morale of B.Sc. students and enhance the perceived status of conventional B.Sc. degrees in universities as a career option.

    The proposal forms part of the recommendations submitted by the Bangalore-based Indian Academy of Sciences (IAS) and the Delhi-based Indian National Science Academy (INSA) to the Planning Commission for the 11th Five-Year Plan on `Higher education in science and research and development: The challenges and the road ahead,' IAS president Professor T V Ramakrishnan told The Hindu .

    The setting up of the engineering schools would entail Government funding of about Rs. 1,700 crore, comprising a one-time grant of Rs. 1,500 crore for the development of infrastructure and a recurring grant of Rs. 200 crore for laboratories, maintenance and ancillaries.

    More informed decisions

    When implemented, the proposal will allow freedom of movement for meritorious students between science and technology streams and industrial research and development. As a result, students can choose between technology, basic sciences and teaching streams at the age of 20, when they can make more "informed decisions."

    The plan provides increased choice after a bachelor's degree so that bright students will choose to study sciences and basic sciences in larger numbers, thereby adding to the prospects of quality research in basic sciences.

    Besides, it will help develop human resource that is comfortable with both science and technology and is, therefore, more tuned to converting knowledge into innovation for wealth generation.

    It will also enable the creation of human resource for industrial R&D in many key areas.

    The measure ``will provide greater choices in career development to the meritorious amongst the 16 lakh students with undergraduate degrees in science," says the IAS-INSA paper.

    "The first non-professional degree (B.Sc.) by itself is, unlike professional degrees, of not much value or societal attractiveness, unless it is of educationally good quality, obtained in a lively research environment and is supplemented by a professional edge (additional skill-building that adds to employability) or research experience," it said.

    The engineering schools suggested by the IAS-INSA combine will offer B.Tech. degrees in frontier areas of industrial R&D, such as robotics, design, micro-electronics, materials and nano-materials, chemistry and chemical engineering, software engineering, nuclear sciences and nuclear technology, bio-medical sciences and bio-technology.