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Science courses: High cutoffs, low demand

The cutoff lists for science courses is soaring in DU colleges, showing the immense demand of these courses but its a one side story.

india Updated: Jun 22, 2006 13:36 IST

The high cutoff marks in DU colleges, especially for science courses, may lead one to think they are in immense demand. The truth, however, is slightly removed from it.

When admissions open, a torrent of students with over 90% marks apply, cranking up the cutoff considerably, but once sessions start, colleges are left in the lurch as students leave for other courses.

Learning a lesson from this, colleges have learnt to moderate the cutoff marks in a manner that while it does not deny admission to high-scorers who might eventually drop out, it also takes in those students who will stay.

“There is a dilemma. Students who score above 90% apply both for DU colleges and professional courses. They raise the cutoff but leave once they get through the course of their choice. If we lower the cutoff we get a flood of people many of who also leave after getting through private colleges. The shine is off science courses,” said Kavita Sharma, principal Hindu College.

This is the experience at other better-known colleges of DU, too. Colleges say they are forced to admit 50% to 100% more students than the approved number of seats to ensure there are enough students to sit for the annual exams.

“We take in 140 students in the first year. By third year this number drops to 50. Many students drop out in the first few months after they get through IITs or medical. Another batch drops out in second year when they take their next attempt at the entrance exams. We have to create a buffer,” says Sharma.

Things are no better in Ramjas College where over 50% extra students are admitted over and above the sanctioned strength. “Within the first two months, over 40% leave,” said Rajendra Prasad, principal, Ramjas College.

Prasad says part of the problem is also the fact that OMR forms give no scope for profiling the students. “We can’t really say if these students are interested in a pure science course. These students apply everywhere and we have no way of figuring out if they will stay with us or not,” he added.

While this situation was more grave a couple of years back when private medical and engineering colleges down south were the in thing, there is another more plausible reason for the brighter students staying away from pure science courses — comparatively poor prospects.

While a student who takes up a professional course is capable of earning a fat packet at the end of a day, an MSc degree holder may still be unemployed at the end of five years.

“You have to make prospects for such students more attractive, besides improving science teaching. A commerce or humanities student is ready for employment at the end of five years, but for a pure science student the way forward is several more years of research,” says Sharma.

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