World-class faculty and the opportunity to be part of research being carried out by India’s premiere science institute seem to be the magnets attracting students to the five-year integrated MSc courses in basic science offered by the institutes newly-established by the central government.
“Being taught by a faculty involved in cutting edge research is a high point,” said Amit Seta (19), a student of the five-year MSc course at the Centre for Excellence in Basic Sciences — University of Mumbai (CBS-UM), Kalina campus.
Teachers from the IITs and Tata Institute of Fundamental Research teach Seta and his classmates. Also, while they had had only read about reactors so far, they actually saw one at BARC. “It’s a hands-on learning, an experience I wouldn’t get at a regular college,” Seta added.
With expanding career options, academic interest in basic sciences is growing. A hike in salaries of the scientific community owing to the implementation of the Sixth Pay Commission recommendations has also made a career in basic science attractive.
An entry-level PhD holder can now earn up to Rs 60,000 a month as against Rs 25,000 to Rs 30,000 under the Fifth Pay Commission. Graduates of a five-year integrated MSc course can earn up to Rs 40,000 a month as compared to Rs 20,000 earlier.
“India must invest in pure science education and research,” said Professor Dipankar Chatterjee, convener of the Kishore Vaigyanik Protsahan Yojana, an entrance test to get into IISER.
“The US, China and Japan have huge science budgets to further their technological developments. India can’t lag behind,” said Chatterjee, also a professor at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore.”
Poor science teaching in schools and colleges andparental disapproval of research-oriented courses often keep students away from basic science. “The IITs are our strong competitors. Even if we get 100 students to the scientific profession every year, we have scored a point,” Chatterjee added.