The Telegraph
Thursday , July 24 , 2014
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Pak students tilt to IT in Saarc university

New Delhi, July 23: As the Saarc-established South Asian University (SAU) gets set to start its fifth academic session this month, admission trends suggest that students from Nepal prefer biotechnology and those from Pakistan computer science.

The SAU acting president, Rajeev K. Saxena, attributed the preference of Nepalese students to lack of advanced facilities in biotechnology in their country and that of Pakistani students to the general tilt towards information technology.

The university has 256 seats for master’s courses and PhD programmes in seven subjects — computer science, development economics, biotechnology, sociology, international relations, law and applied mathematics. There are 30 seats at the master’s level but the number of PhD seats varies between five and 10.

The university follows a reservation policy of 50 per cent for Indians, 10 per cent each for students from Pakistan, Bangladesh and non-Saarc countries, and 4 per cent each for students from Afghanistan, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka.

If the countries do not fill up their respective quotas, the seats may go to any Saarc country and finally to India.

Six students from Nepal secured admission in MSc biotechnology this year. Last year, the figure was seven.

At the PhD level, there are 10 seats for biotechnology, of which five have gone to Nepalese students. A total of 24 students from Nepal have been admitted to various courses this year.

“The universities in Nepal offer honours, master’s and PhD programmes in biotechnology. However, the labs are not so well equipped. This could be a possible reason why they prefer SAU,” Saxena said.

The computer science master’s course draws Pakistani students. This year, seven have secured admission. Three more can get admission under the Pakistan quota. Across all courses, there are 12 students from Pakistan this year.

Saxena said there were a good number of IT institutions in Pakistan and student preference for computer science could be attributed to the tilt towards a career in IT.

The varsity’s deputy registrar, Anwar-ul Haq, said students from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka were evenly spread over all courses. Bhutan and Maldives were not able to utilise their quota, he said.

About 125 Indian students have been admitted for various courses.

The university, a project pushed by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, seeks to strengthen academic co-operation among Saarc nations. The university is slowly drawing more students — compared to 4,100 applicants last year, there were about 4,600 this year.

At present, the university is functioning from a temporary campus at Akbar Bhavan in Chanakyapuri. A permanent campus is being built on a 100-acre plot in south Delhi, adjacent to Indira Gandhi National Open University.

There are plans to add five more courses after the university shifts to its permanent campus.