Branch Change Scenario: A Comparative Analysis
Getting into one of the top institutes of the country is not everyone's cup of tea. Only a few get the opportunity to pursue their studies from one of these premier institutions. Not everyone has the luxury to pick the branch of their choice, therefore, fascinated by the charm of top engineering institutions they choose a branch driven by two important factors: their AIR and peer pressure.
As one enters the college, they get exposed to the real world and start discovering their passion and understand which stream is the best for them. Branch change gives an engineering student another chance to pursue the branch of his/her choice and passion. It is a second chance for those who have got into the institute of their choice but failed to get into their preferred branch, like a blessing which comes with a cost but the prize is more than worth it.
Changing your branch allows you to re-define your stay in the institute or sometimes your entire life. A decision to be considered seriously and work hard for, to achieve what they want.
At the end of the first year, CGPA is the most important criterion for the eligibility of the branch change. Moreover, since the number of students entering into a certain department is limited the competition is tough which requires a greater amount of efforts from the students who are desperate for a branch change.
Rules for branch change in NIT Rourkela
Quite a few years back the NITR administration had stopped the branch change system, but it has come back into the picture for the past two years. One can apply for branch change at the end of the second semester.
Meritorious B.Tech students who have secured CGPA of 8.5 or more (without any backlogs) at the end of the first year are eligible to opt for a change of branch of their choice.
The process of the branch change is subject to the following conditions:
- Change of branch is subject to availability of vacant seats and subject to the condition that the consequent vacancy created in the parent department, due to branch change, should not be more than 5% of actual existing strength.
- 5% of the vacancy is to be calculated based on existing strength. Decimal figures to be rounded up to the nearest integer (E.g. 1.5 = 2 and 1.49 = 1).
- There is no option to revert the change of branch once allotted.
- The branch change will be strictly based on CGPA only and no other criterion will be adopted.
- In case of a tie in CGPA for allotting Branch Change, the JEE Main rank (CRL) will be considered.
Prof. Nihar Mishra, Associate Dean Academics, in a conversation with team MM, answered the queries about the branch change at our institute.
MM: How are the vacancies in any department determined?
Asso.Dean: The number of vacancies is determined by the rule of not decreasing the strength by 5% in a branch. The vacancies in any department which are considered for branch change are the JOSAA vacancies and the vacancies created if a student leaves the institute in the first or second semester.
MM: Are the vacancies created due to the year back considered? And are the consequential vacancies created due to branch change considered?
Asso.Dean: All these points have been considered but the senate will take the call for that. There is no criterion of considering the vacancies created a result of branch change.
MM: After branch change, it's a long and tough procedure for the students to follow up with the official changes to make like getting Id cards updated, etc. Do you think the Institute should be more helpful to these students who need to cope up with the new branch?
Asso.Dean: Until now no student had come to me with such issues, but I definitely would help them if I come to know. If these issues were raised, I would have taken immediate action in solving them. There are some technical problems regarding the Id cards making and allotment. I’m here to help them, students can come to me whenever needed.
MM: After branch change, which branch (old or new) should be considered for the student while deciding the academic excellence award? (Confusion in this year's award distribution)
Asso.Dean: After the branch change, the student is eligible to be considered for the academic excellence award for the new branch, because looking at the long term aspect of the importance of the award, the student will be benefitted from it only when it mentions his/her present branch rather than the previous one. Adding to that, all the first-year students have the same syllabus which brings them to the same pedestal. SAC contacted the academic department for the information and we ensure that no false information has been given.
How Is It Done Elsewhere?
Branch change is not a system exclusive to NITR and has been a well-established system in many reputed institutes of our country. While the entire list of rules for every institute will be pretty exhaustive, we bring you the basic rules and regulations in these institutes which are different from those at our institute.
- Eligibility Criteria- The student must not have passed any semester through special/Summer Semester Examination or by repeating the semester, he/she must have a minimum CGPA of 7.5(General and OBCS)/6.5(SCs, STs and PWDs) at the end of the first year.
- Students securing a CGPA above 9.0 and/or securing a rank within top 1% of the students of their entire batch, shall be allowed to change to the branch of their choice irrespective of any other conditions.
- After considering the direct branch change, the normal branch change will be applied only if the strength of the receiving batch does not exceed by more than 15% of the sanctioned strength and the strength of the donor branch does not fall below 50% of the sanctioned strength.
- Eligibility Criterion- The student must have earned all the specified credits in the programme structure at the end of the autumn semester, he/she has not have failed in any course and mustn’t have been penalized for indiscipline.
- The change of branch shall be strictly against the number of vacancies or 10% of the sanctioned strength of the branch (to which the change is sought), whichever is higher. And in making a change of branch, the resulting strength of the branch from which the transfer is being made should not fall by more than 25% of existing strength.
- There is no cut-off of CGPA for being eligible to apply for branch change.
- Eligibility Criterion- No backlogs at the end of the first year and a minimum CPI of 8 for General Category and OBCs and 7 for SCs, STs and PWDs.
- All Branch-Changes happen strictly in CPI order
- A branch can not expand to more than 10% of its sanctioned strength, nor can it contract to less than 85% of its original number.
- Eligibility Criteria- Students who have completed all the credits prescribed in the first two semesters of the course, in his/her first attempt, without having had to pass any course requirement in the re-examination, supplementary examination and/or summer quarter. The minimum CGPA requirement to be eligible for branch change is 8.5.
- Students will NOT be eligible for Branch Change if EAA(Extra Academic Activity) has not been completed.
- Change of branch requested by applicants who have secured a rank within the top 1%, rounded to the nearest integer amongst all first years, shall be made without any constraint on the number of seats.
- The remaining applicants may be allowed a change of branch, strictly in order of merit, subject to the limitation that the actual number of students in the Third (Autumn) Semester, in the branch to which the transfer is to be made, does not exceed 110% of the sanctioned yearly intake for that branch.
- Eligibility Criteria- Students who have completed all the credits prescribed in the first year with a minimum CGPA of 8.5 in a single attempt are eligible or branch change.
- Strength of students in a branch at most can be increased by three, subject to the condition that the strength in a particular branch from which the transfer is made does not fall below 85% of the existing strength.
- No student will be permitted under any circumstance to refuse the change in branch offered.
- Students have to enlist seven choices in order of preferences they wish to change over to.
- Eligibility Criteria- The applicant must have passed all credits of the first year in a single attempt, with a minimum CPI of 7.5 for all the categories, admitted through JEE. Students admitted under DASA, ICCR, MEA etc. are not eligible for branch change.
- Strength of any program will not exceed its sanctioned strength or fall below 60% of sanctioned strength as a result of changes.
- Vacancies aroused due to withdrawal of admission and consequential branch sliding and sliding will be carried out for these consequential vacancies.
- Sliding of the branch is strictly based on CPI.
Can It Be More Efficient?
The table below displays the number of students in NIT Rourkela, who entered into a new branch in the current and the previous year:
As shown in the table above, the total number of branch change at the end of 1st year in IIT Roorkee is more than 10 times; in IIT Kharagpur more than 20 times and in ISM Dhanbad more than 30 times that in NIT Rourkela. At this point, we need to realize that these premier institutes somehow manage to give such huge scope for branch change, as a result, freshmen don’t necessarily see branch change as an unachievable goal; But in NIT Rourkela the scope for changing your branch is so limited that branch change is perceived as a very far-fetched goal. With the average performance of 1st years dropping every year, it is high time the institute makes the branch change system more meaningful as it will not only act as a means to follow one’s passion but it will also be a motivation for students who otherwise see no purpose in studying.
The means through which other institutes manage to create more vacancies are many, a few suggestions from MM which can help increase the possibility of the number of branch changes in our institute are:
- Direct branch change for applicants securing CG above 9(or any other such cut off) without any restrictions.
- Considering consequential vacancies created because of branch change for another list of branch change.
- Keeping a certain percentage of seats reserved (in the highly sought after branches) specifically for students who would come through branch change after 1st year.
- Removing any restriction of CGPA, i.e. anyone who wants to apply for branch change can do so but the final list will be made based on CGPA.
A lot of freshmen face a dilemma when it comes to opting for branch change. Here are the testimonials of some of the students who have already been in that situation:
Pratyusha Padhi (Chemical to Mechanical, CG- 9.59)
When I joined college I didn't intend to change my branch, but when I explored other branch subjects in my first year, I liked a few topics which were related to other branches. Gradually I got to know about the better opportunities available in other departments. So when I was eligible to change my branch, I opted for the best branch in the list of available branches. It was never an aim but it happened as a result of my performance and gradually I incurred interest. If any fresher is clear-headed enough to change their branch, it is important to start working from the very beginning. The better the score the better branch they can get. Also, Time management is a must for every fresher who aspires to change their branch at the end of the first year.
Archit Nabaria (Mechanical Sophomore, CG- 9.57)
I only wanted Computer Science and there was no vacancy in the department. My advice for freshmen would be- don't opt for branch change. Higher branches have a negligible vacancy at the end of the first year.
Kanchada Santanu Sekhar Senapati (Mining to Electrical, CG-9.39)
After joining the institute I came to know about the branch change policy and its rules, and I realized that it's almost impossible to slide the branch. So, I didn't aim for it from the beginning of the first year itself. After the results of the 1st year were declared, I realized that I was eligible to apply for branch change. Further, there were also some vacancies in core branches which interested me to apply for it. So, I applied for it and fortunately I got my branch changed. If anyone of you wants to change your branch, the first advice would be- do not burden yourself to extremes, only then you would be able to focus on your studies better. Keep studying regularly, get your concepts well cleared and also solve past years question papers. This will help you in scoring good CGPA. You need to have a good CGPA to compete with others who would also apply for branch change. Your CGPA (and of course the vacancies) will decide whether you can change your branch or not & if yes, then to which branch.
Satyam Agrawalla (Ceramic to Meta, CG-8.73)
I always wanted to join mechanical or metallurgy, but my JEE score made me land in ceramic. After getting to know about the ceramic branch and its scope, I got interested in that field. But after 1st year when I got an option to change my branch, I decided to go forward. For 1st years, I would say that getting a high CG is important but it's not as big a deal as many 1st years think. They can enjoy the opportunities in the 1st year and work for CG at the same time. I wish all the 1st years’ good luck and hope they enjoy their stay in NIT.
Anshu Lodha (Civil to ECE, CG-9.59)
There are two factors that one needs to consider when it comes to branch change- priority, interest and possibility. Both priority and interest worked out for me in my new branch and thankfully it was possible, so it just happened. I aimed to beat the best out of myself and whatever I got are just the byproducts of the efforts. 1st years need to understand that no branch is better than the other, all that matters is how much are your efforts. Hypothetically speaking, even if you top the NIT you may not get the chance to change your branch but even then your efforts will never go in vain. My Advice to 1st years would be that even though studies are an important part of college; it is not the only part of it. Try some co-curricular activities, don’t just sit idle and study all day and night.
Branch change is one of the first thoughts that cross the mind of many freshmen when they join this institute. But the first step in any life-changing decision is to identify why you think taking that decision means so much to you. Most of the candidates who think about changing their branch do so taking into account the placement statistics of the previous years. Although this approach is not completely wrong, the better alternative to this would be consulting the seniors in the respective branches about the pros and cons of joining a certain branch because the popular belief that a certain branch is better than the others is not necessarily true. Moreover, the avenue created by the option of minor degree is also a major factor which every freshman must consider before opting for branch change because many companies also allow students with a minor degree in the required branch, so is the leap worth it? The truth is that branch change is neither easy nor necessary, but consistency and persistence go a long way in getting you what you want.
Team MM wishes all the aspirants of branch change the best for the potentially life-changing decision ahead.
Information credits: Insight, IITB( statistics from the year 2014); Medium @ Awaaz IITKGP; Watch out! , IIT Roorkee.