Vani Doraisamy

They allow students to meld research with educational stream Students find the integrated courses especially beneficial when they plan to pursue higher studies abroad

CHENNAI: Faced with a dearth of quality research scholars, more and more higher education institutions in the State are opting to start integrated degree programmes that allow students to meld research pursuits with the educational stream.

Institutions of excellence such as the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, and the Anna University are offering a clutch of innovative integrated degree programmes this year in various disciplines in a bid to foster serious research.

By its very nature, a five-year integrated degree programme scores over a conventional three-year course as students can stick to one course of study for the entire duration.

While the IIT-M is offering masters programmes in Development Studies, Economics and English Studies, the Anna University is offering M.Sc programmes in Computer Science/Information Technology and Electronic Media.

From the Bharathidasan University, Tiruchirappalli, comes five-year programmes in Biomedical Sciences and Geo Sciences, while the Avinashilingam Deemed University (Coimbatore) offers B.Sc., B.Ed and M.Ed programmes in Special Education and Rehabilitation.

The Vellore Institute of Technology (Deemed University) has worked out a Master of Science programme in Software Engineering, while Pondicherry University offers courses in Applied Geology, Chemistry and Physics.

While the eligibility criteria for admission to IIT-M and Anna University courses is a pass in Plus-Two and through a common entrance examination, in most other institutions a pass in Plus-Two in the relevant group is considered adequate.

Students find the integrated courses especially beneficial when they plan to pursue higher studies abroad. R. Vignesh, who is confident of getting admitted to Anna University's M.Sc programme in computer science and IT programme finds the prescribed course structure more suited to his future career prospects than a conventional B.Tech/M.Tech programme. Combined with the fact that admission to these courses is easier compared to the engineering courses, the programme would also allow him to pursue research in network security, his area of interest. Educational analysts, however, say these courses need to gain more in popularity, vis-à-vis conventional degree programmes.

"Hardly 5,000 students apply every year to Anna University's M.Sc programme in Computer Science and IT, though more than a lakh students compete for the Tamil Nadu Professional Courses Entrance Examination. The advantage in pursuing an integrated programme offered by universities is that one can focus more on the research components and get papers published, which gives them a competitive edge over engineering graduates. The reality, however, is that not many students are aware of these prospects,'' says Salem-based analyst Jayaprakash Gandhi.