With the new academic year under way, countrywide college enrolments are in its last phase. The science sector has some interesting insights to offer, if the trend in Delhi University (DU) is any indication. The slowdown, indeed a downturn, in the information technology (IT) sector is beginning to have its impact. In DU, for instance, the (four year) professional courses of Bachelor of Information Technology (BIT) and Bachelor of Information Sciences (BIS) were scrapped last year. Instead, a non-professional course, B.Sc (Honours) in computer science, has been introduced but its restructured syllabus still falls short of giving an all-round grounding in the sciences.
As a result, the explosive increase in the number of entrants into these courses, evident till 2000, is showing a drop. This could have a positive impact in the basic sciences. If one looks at cut-off percentages, they are about the same as last year as against the annual drop of about 3 per cent seen for some years—an indication that roughly the same top percentile of students are coming into sciences this year too. IT's lure is wearing out, biotechnology is the new mantra. However, it may suffer the same fate as IT in a few years' time.