While bifocal courses, which allow FYJC students to combine core subjects with unconventional options, have always been popular among science students, colleges are increasingly offering them in the arts and commerce streams too.
These subjects, such as information technology, electronics and electrical maintenance, can be taken up instead of a second language, or other optional subjects. Several colleges are offering information technology to not just science students, but arts and commerce too. Around 60 to 120 seats are available in colleges for these subjects and the fee are higher than the regular courses. The fee ranges from Rs1, 500 to Rs25,000, depending on the subject and the college.
Despite the higher fee, these seats fill fast during admissions, said principals. “We have seen a huge demand for these seats,” said Marie Fernandes, principal, St Andrew’s College, Bandra. “High-scoring students also want to opt for them, driving up their cut-offs.”
Principals said the courses were popular because students consider them easier to score in. “Students think these courses are more scoring than languages,” said Tushar Desai, principal of DG Ruparel College, Matunga.
However, their popularity is dipping among science students, who are going for integrated courses, said some principals.
“Bifocals were very popular among science students earlier, but now students are getting attracted to integrated courses offering JEE or medical entrance coaching along with state board syllabus,” said Desai.
An FYJC aspirant, Drishti Krishna, said, “My sister had opted for electronics bifocal course two years ago; it gave her an edge in engineering. But I am interested in an integrated course because it will prepare me for JEE.”
However, the demand remains high in the sought-after colleges. “The number of students wanting to take up bifocals is increasing each year, a lot of students are asking for electrical maintenance. The cut-off for electrical maintenance was 92% last year,” said Manju Nichani, principal, KC College, Churchgate.
A similar system was started by University of Mumbai (MU) in 2011 for degree courses too, with the choice based credit and grading system (CBCGS). This enabled students to complete a single module along with other modules either in the same institution or elsewhere, with a subject combination suited to their needs. However, it could only be implemented by autonomous colleges.
“While implementing CBCGS, we had problems such as merging the attendance and change in the fees according to the course. In the affiliated-college system, it is difficult to attain the uniformity the course demands,” said Madhu Nair, dean of commerce, Mumbai university.