When Bangalore University (BU) started a four-year integrated Bachelor of Science (BS) course last year, no one knew that the course would attract a tremendous response. Those who had written off pure sciences courses are in for more surprise, as the recently held counselling for the second batch of students for this course saw an even better turnout. Toppers who had shunned medical and engineering courses had opted for the unique course, and all the seats on offer were lapped up on day one of the counselling itself.
Sample this: A student with 95 per cent aggregate in her 12th Standard is at the top end of the list of students the batch of 2011-12 has. The cut-off is as high as 81 per cent. The University is offering 20 seats each in four affiliated colleges: National College, Basavanagudi; Maharani Lakshmi Ammanni College, Malleswaram; KLE Society's Nijalingappa College, Rajajinagar; and Kristu Jayanti College, K. Narayanapura Road. This, apart from the 20 seats at the University's Jnanabharathi campus.
Among the 20 students at Jnanabharathi, four have scored over 90 per cent in the 12th Standard. Even the students selected under reservation categories are those with over 70 per cent marks. Further, only in its second year, the course has attracted students from outside the State too, such as Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Assam, perhaps because BU is the only university in the country (other than the Indian Institute of Science) to offer such a course.
The USP of this course appears to be the criss-cross of various disciplines. The syllabus has Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics and Biology as the major subjects. It also includes languages such as Kannada, Hindi, Sanskrit, French and English, apart from Communication Skills, Indian Constitution, Environmental Studies and Computer Fundamentals.
In addition, students can pick and choose the subjects they like and dislike, and have the option of making a subject they are uncomfortable with as a minor subject from the fifth to the seventh semester. The allied subjects include Material Science, Basic Electronics, Atmospheric Science, Electronics Instrumentation, Spectroscopic Techniques and Applications, Biophysics, Environmental Chemistry or Industrial Chemistry, Medicinal Organic Chemistry or Natural Product Chemistry, Applied Electrochemistry or Chemistry of Materials, Bioinformatics, Biophysics, Biology in health, agriculture and industry, Bioinstrumentation and Biotechnology.
Other bonuses include special guest lectures by imminent scientists and personalities every alternative Saturday at each centre/college.
Post the BS, students need only one year's Master's, as opposed to the traditional two, while Ph.D. is for two years, as opposed to three. Thus, the student ends up saving a year's time, and of course a lot of money, considering the course starts at Rs. 5,000 for the first year.
These students also get various scholarships — the BU Vice-Chancellor's scholarship and the INSPIRE scholarship.
For those wishing to go abroad for higher studies, there could not be a better course as it fits the bill. Western countries look for a four-year graduation.
These students, taught by a mixed faculty drawn from existing postgraduate science departments in the University as well as scientists, among others, have the option of becoming anything from a researcher to a scientist.
It is said that there will soon be at least 200 vacancies in the country's premiere science organisations. The news could not have come at a better time for the students.
Basking in the success of what started as an experiment, the Bangalore University is now contemplating introducing similar four-year integrated courses in Arts, Commerce and Economics (this in the proposed Bangalore School of Economics). Who knows, as the BS course partially revived traditional science, the proposed courses may do the same for the other disciplines whose popularity is plummeting rapidly.