Minor Degrees: A Mixed Blessing?
Afif Janjirkar | Aug 06, 2018
Among a number of academic changes implemented by the Institute this session, is the most exciting, and equally hyped issue of Minor degrees. The new program was added for the 2017-21 batch and was met with remarkably sundry opinions, among the populace.
About the program
Starting this session NIT Rourkela would provide a Minor degree in Engineering, Science, and Humanities only for B.Tech students with a CGPA of 7.5 and above and without any backlogs. The degree will be awarded to the student on completion of at least 6 courses offered by the department he/she wishes to Minor in comprising of 18 credits between the 3rd semester and 8th semester.
Once allocated, the student cannot change the Minor, he can, however, drop the course with special permission from Dean (AC). If after the allocation, the student’s CGPA goes below 7.5 or if he/she gets a backlog in any subject then his/her registration for the Minor will be cancelled.
Comparison with other institutes
One could argue that the program took a long time coming to the NITs with all the IITs already having an established provision for Minor degrees. The only other NIT to have a Minor degree provision other than NIT Rourkela is NIT Tiruchirappalli. NIT Surathkal has introduced the Minor degree provision this academic year which will be available to the batch of 2018-22 for the first time.
The rules and regulations laid out by the Institute for the program closely resemble the ones implemented at IIT Kharagpur where students aspiring for a Minor in a discipline must register for the same at the beginning of the 5th semester. Only those students, who have a CGPA of 7.5 or above, without any backlogs, will be permitted to register for a Minor. The students at IIT Kharagpur are required to maintain a CGPA or SGPA of 8.0 and above to keep their Minor registration active as opposed to the 7.5 at NIT Rourkela.
A Curate’s egg?
I think it’s a very good concept. Many students aspire to get admitted in Computer Science, Electronics, Electrical etc but not everybody gets a chance to study these subjects because of their score in JEE Mains. So it is good that they're getting an opportunity to learn that subject. I don’t, however, like the fact that people who have backlogs in NSS or PE, which are non-academic zero credit courses, cannot register for a Minor even though their CGPA makes them eligible.
-Priyatosh Sahoo (Metallurgy Dept., Allocated Minor: CSE)
With the system still being in its maiden year and untested, the students had not yet formed a concrete opinion of the new provision. The details of the program were not completely revealed with the students only getting to know that there will be a Minor degree provision starting from next semester for those meeting the academic requirements (>= CGPA 7.5) in the spring semester of the 2017-18 year. So it came as a shock to many students when they discovered that they were not eligible for the program due to backlogs in NSS and/or PE despite being in a strong academic standing.
To get a complete understanding of the views of the diverse population of NITR on the matter, Monday Morning conducted a poll asking whether the provision of Minor Degree is a welcoming move in improving the career prospects of Undergraduates.
62% of students agreed that the provision will substantially improve the prospects of undergraduate students by improving their knowledge in another related branch.
Most of the students were exuberant in knowing that they have the opportunity to broaden their knowledge base and study another discipline which they had desired but were not able to pursue due to various constraints.
Students are also optimistic that a Minor degree in core branches (CSE, EE, ECE) will also enable them to sit for placements for these branches and thus open up new opportunities for them.
I have always been interested in Astro-Physics and I'm glad that I have the option of learning more about the subject while getting a Minor.
-Khalid Baig (Mechanical Dept., Allocated Minor: Physics and Astronomy)
21% of the people were of the opinion that it may or may not be a welcome move depending on what a student is allotted.
Some students were aggrieved at not getting a Minor of their choice. A few students, say, for instance, were interested in studying Mathematics but due to the small number of students enrolled, the course had to be cancelled and the students were instead allocated a different Minor.
Considering that the students cannot change their Minors, a student allocated with an undesired Minor will be stuck pursuing a subject he/she did not prefer which might be counter-productive.
The system was considered a burden and a deviation from excelling in their chosen branches by 17% of the students.
I was not interested in any of the courses being offered and thus felt it would be misspent of time to choose a Minor just for the sake of choosing when I could instead spend my time developing my CS skills.
-Milind Choudhary (Comp. Science Dept., did not opt for a Minor)
A portion of the students are happy with their branches and do not feel the need to study a second subject. The consensus among them is that the time and effort spent in pursuing a Minor degree could be utilized to perfect their major and better themselves in their respective fields. Moreover, it would free up their workload and enable them to pursue other activities.
|Subject||No. of Students Enrolled||Opening CGPA||Closing CGPA|
|Computer Science and Engineering||40||9.39||8.59|
|Electronics and Communication Engineering||40||9.59||8.36|
|Metallurgical and Materials Engineering||9||8.32||7.55|
|Physics and Astronomy||15||9.02||7.55|
While a majority of the students have shown satisfaction with the new system, there have been reservations by some in the student community for the purpose of the program and its implementation. Suffice to say it will take some time and impact by the program to convince the entire NITR citizenry of its benefits.