New Delhi, March 3 (IANS) There is good news for future of science in India. A study by a premier Indian research organisation has found an increase of 44 percent and 121 percent in enrolment in science at undergraduate and postgraduate courses respectively in the last six years, dispelling apprehensions that students are not opting for it.
The study by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) reported an annual growth of eight percent and 19 percent in science courses at college level between 2004-05 and 2009-10.
The study found that 2,148,956 students enrolled for undergraduate courses in science in colleges in 2009-10 compared to 1,490,785 in 2004-05, an increase of 44 percent. The response was much better in postgraduate courses in science with 439,725 students enrolling in 2009-10 compared to 198,719 in 2004-05, an increase of 121 percent.
The authors from the Human Resource Development Group of the CSIR also studied data pertaining to students availing themselves of science research fellowship for pursuing PhD in academic and scientific institutions across India.
"There has been an increase in the enrolment of students for undergraduate and postgraduate courses in science during the period 2004-05 to 2009-10 and it is accompanied by significant increase in registration for science research fellowship," Rajesh Luthra, lead author of the study, told IANS.
The research fellowship - CSIR-UGC National Eligibility Test (NET) for Junior Research Fellowship (JRF) and Eligibility for Lectureship - was started in 1983 to identify young scientific talent.
The study found that over the years, the number of candidates registering for fellowships has increased significantly but about 41 percent of the selected students did not avail themselves of the fellowship for various reasons.
The study also showed that the NET-qualified candidates who did not avail themselves of the fellowship are actually staying in the same stream.
"A majority of qualified fellows who did not avail it remained in the science stream and have been pursuing doctoral research with the fellowships provided by other funding/sponsoring agencies, or pursuing research in foreign institutes or are employed in academic and research and development institutes," Luthra told IANS.
The fellowships are awarded in the field of Mathematical Sciences, Life Sciences, Chemical Sciences, Physical Sciences and Earth Sciences.
The study called for making efforts to progressively augment the creation of high-quality skilled human resource at all levels, starting from inculcating scientific temper at school level to creating better and competitive job opportunities.
"India, however, still requires a large number of highly skilled science and technology personnel to compete in the knowledge-driven global economy and efforts should be made to attract youngsters," highlighted the study.
(Richa Sharma can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)