It is vital to attract undergraduate students to pursue higher studies in science by providing them practical exposure. With this in mind, the Department of Biotechnology is focusing on boosting its star colleges scheme which aims to improve curriculum with emphasis on practical training to students by providing access to specialised infrastructure and consumables and scale up the skills of teachers by organising faculty training.
At present, 102 colleges through the country are being supported under the star colleges’ scheme and steps are being taken to include more. Star college scheme has been divided in two categories viz. strengthening of support for undergraduate education and Star college status. Criteria for selection as a “Star College” are very stringent and budget provision is double for colleges accorded star status.
So far, 16 colleges have been accorded star status.
The scheme strengthens physical infrastructure in laboratories, library, teaching aids and promotes networking with neighboring institutes. Hands-on training and projects of day to day relevance which is a crucial component of scheme have enhanced interest in students to pursue science courses at Undergraduate level. Laboratory manuals have been developed under the scheme which are being refined and will be shared amongst all participating colleges.
Features of the star college scheme
Opportunities to learn from stalwarts and visits to nearby institutes and universities are provided under the scheme. The programme lays emphasis on inter-departmental and inter-disciplinary interactions. Innovative minor research exposures to students by projects of day to day relevance are being encouraged. Faculty improvement workshops in collaboration with British Council are being oarganised to train the trainers. Workshops on handling of sophisticated equipment, safety precautions for pathogenic organisms, hazardous chemicals and waste disposal are being organized for laboratory staff. The colleges are engaged in outreach activities for school students and neighbouring college students. The scheme has enabled higher, enrolment in undergraduate science courses, increase in cut off percentage at time of admission, decline in dropout rates, better pass percentage and higher enrollment in post graduate courses in science.