KOCHI: The final figure of the number of seats remaining vacant in engineering colleges across the state will be known only after the completion of the process. But, all available indications show that nearly 50 per cent of seats in engineering colleges are likely to remain vacant in the year as more meritorious students have turned back from engineering degree courses. The loss of glamour for engineering courses amongst students is the gain for basic degree courses in science and humanities.
“There is a definite trend of academically brilliant students opting for basic degree courses in science and humanities”, said Fr. Prasant Palackappillil, Principal of the Sacred Heart College in Thevara, Kochi. Fr. Prasant said he is not having a break up in the number of students opting for various courses but pointed out that there was an increase of more than 10 per cent in the number of students seeking admissions compared with the previous year. For courses such as B.Com and Bsc physics the first level of cut off was 97-98 per cent in the college, he said. For courses such as economics and English literature also the cut-off was in the range of 95 per cent, he added.
“Many students, who have scored in the range of 90-93 per cent, failed to get admissions in their first choice of subjects”, Fr. Prasant said. The rush for basic degree courses, especially in science and commerce courses, can be gauged from the fact that many private colleges are charging a hefty donation for admissions. The donation ranges from Rs 80,000 to Rs 2 lakhs as per the course in demand and the reputation of the institutions concerned.
The biggest beneficiaries of this trend are aided colleges having the permission to run self-financing courses, according to many parents. In places like Kollam the rate is anywhere between Rs 60,000- Rs 1.2 lakh for a degree course in science subjects such as Physics and Chemistry, a parent said. Interest in science subjects has never vanished completely, said CJ Davees, a former head of English Department in St. Thomas College, Thrissur, said.
“But the tendency to opting for engineering courses as a matter of prestige has come to an end. Due to lack of job opportunity, students not joining for engineering course are taking up traditional science course like Zoology, Botany and BSc Math as they have realized several research opportunities in the country and abroad. Persons having an eye for teaching and journalism are joining humanities courses like English Language and literature and History among other courses,” he said.
According to Dr. Valsalan HoD of History department in Government Brennen College Thalassery is also of the view that students with high marks are opting for basic degree courses. “Students with high marks are opting for basic degree courses despite getting admission in Engineering and Medicine. The trend underlines the fact that basic courses are relevant at all seasons. Applied sciences should not ignore basic course, but should build over it”, he added.
“Initially I planned to go for medicine and even undergone repeat course before opting out for degree programme, said Priya Parvathi, a final year BSc psychology student at Providence Women’s College, Kozhikode. “I realised that a pure science would serve better for my interest in clinical research. I also have the freedom engage in extracurricular activities like attending cultural programmes and campus politics”, she said.
According to Sreelaskshmi Thadathil, a final year journalism degree student in St. Joseph’s College, Devagiri in Kozhikode the basic degree courses provide a lot of options to pursue after the course. “We can go to research, teaching or any other fields after the completion of the course and probably that’s the reason for many opting for basic courses these days”, she said.
Although students with high scoring marks opting for basic degree courses is a welcome trend some distressing signs are also discernable that calls for an introspection of the quality of the education system in the state. According Fr. Prasant the language skills of the students are quite weak despite having high marks.”Many students are weak in both Malayalam and English”, he added.
The increasing number of students with high marks coming for degree courses also calls for improving the infrastructure of the colleges in terms of better laboratory and access of quality journals. The quality of teaching also needed to be improved to keep the attention of the post-mobile phone generation of students entering the colleges.