Graduates from Maharashtra have been found to be under-qualified to take up masters programme in economics at the top economics schools in the country, said Rajas Parchure, officiating director, Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics (GIPE).
It is also one of the main reasons behind the nine-decade-old institute to open its doors, for the first time, to undergraduates (UG) through its soon-to-be-launched Bachelor of Science (BSc) programme in Economics.
So far, the deemed university has offered only postgraduate (PG) courses and doctoral studies in economics. It has carried out some grassroots studies in agriculture, healthcare and issues pertaining to India's socio-economic conditions.
Parchure said: "It has been noticed that very few graduates from Maharashtra crack entrance examinations to top economics schools in the country. For instance, if one considers a list of top 500 students, who qualify for MSc Economics programme at GIPE, there would be less than 10 students from Maharashtra. Barely one or two students are able to make it to the top 200 in the list." He said students from Delhi were found to perform better at such tests.
He also expressed concerns about poor and falling standards of economics taught in schools and colleges in Maharashtra and the outdated syllabus. Parchure said students from the state are far behind in competition compared to their peers elsewhere in India.
"It is sad to see that even bright students and university toppers from numerous universities in Maharashtra fail to crack the entrance tests and are unable to make it to the top schools of economics," said Parchure. In an attempt to help students, a few years ago, GIPE had offered training to fellow professors and teachers in Pune and other cities in the state. " But we got no response," he said.
But for the last three years, GIPE has been offering training to undergraduates. "We conduct year-long training meant solely to help students fare better in entrances. The weekend training is beginning to show some positive results," said Parchure.
The new course will be open for students from all streams who have cleared Class XII. The admission process will be completed through an exam to be held in June. The test will comprise objective questions on data analytics and interpretation skills, linguistics and general knowledge. Application forms will be available from March 5.
According to Ashish Kulkarni, the course co-ordinator, the gap between the economics courses run at UG and PG levels in colleges and universities in Maharashtra is wide. "Alongside bridging the gap, the course aims at making the UG course rigorous and equip students with skills in data interpretation. Students will also need to take up internships during the three-year period," he said.
Other features of the new programme will be courses on two foreign languages and computer languages, both will come handy for data analytics. Undergraduates will also be trained in communication and marketing skills. The total intake will be 60 students from across India and the proposed fee for the first year is Rs 1.25 lakh.