While Anna University expects more than 25,000 engineering seats to go vacant, there has been an overwhelming demand for arts and science courses this academic year, which has forced the Madras University to increase the number of seats in certain colleges.This trend has come as a striking surprise for many academicians and experts, who feel the sudden increase in employability of arts and science graduates and high course fee for studying engineering could be the driving factors. B.Com, Visual Communication, Bachelors in Computer Applications and Basic Sciences are turning out to be the hot subjects chosen by the students.
There has been a 30 per cent increase in the number of applicants opting for arts and science courses this academic year, according to Madras University Vice Chancellor G Thiruvasagam. Following this, more than 19 colleges had approached Madras University asking for permission to increase the number of seats per course by 20-40 per cent.On an average, the demand was to increase the number of seats by 30 per cent. After a university council meeting on the subject, we have allowed the colleges to increase the number of students per course by 10 per cent, Thiruvasagam told Express. Hence, in the 159 colleges coming under Madras University, each course in Arts stream can now admit 70 students and each course in Science stream 50 students.
While academicians and experts attribute the numbers to increasing availability of jobs, the Madras University V-C pointed out that an increase in first generation students could also have influenced the numbers. Irrespective of economic status, there is a wider awareness on need for education. And going by the trend, we have reasons to believe that most students are first generation learners, which is a good trend,he said.Since most government and government-aided colleges for arts and sciences provide free education and since cost of studying engineering is higher, many first generation students could have preferred the former.”
So, what has suddenly turned the employability wave towards arts and science courses? “The ever expanding services sector is absorbing the arts and sciences students like never before, almost equal to the number of engineering students,the V-C said.Professionals in the field claim that hiring arts and sciences graduates make more economical sense to them.Be it engineering or arts and science, all students need to be trained before they can handle the job. Hence, it makes no difference if the student is from basic sciences background or engineering background, in certain sectors of the job. Further, we can afford to pay lesser to a student from an arts and science college compared to an engineering student, said Jayesh M, HR manager with a top IT firm.Revision of syllabus with the addition of basic computer subjects even for humanities courses has increased employability of our students,said Thiruvasagam.The V-C also said that the employability benefits were not restricted to cities, but had extended to rural areas also.We made recommendation to HCL-BPO to recruit from rural areas. They shortlisted close to 1,600 students from various rural colleges and recruited 1,300 so far.