Govt to set up Research Centre to encourage undergraduate research in science

Keen to engage undergraduate students in research in sciences, the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India, has funded setting up of a research centre at Miranda House, Delhi University.

The first such centre dedicated to encouraging undergraduate research in sciences, DS Kothari Center for Research and Innovation in Science Education would revive students' interest in the sciences and encourage students to get into research at a younger age.

Although on a small scale, the centre shares its goal with Innovation in Science Pursuit for Inspired Research (INSPIRE), a scheme announced by Finance Minister P. Chidambaram in this year's Budget.

“All such schemes will enthuse young people to embrace a career in sciences and bring about a sense of competition,” said Kapil Sibal, Union Minister of Science and Technology and Earth Sciences.

Mr Sibal said that disturbing data about students opting out of sciences had emerged all over the world. “In India we still have students taking up sciences but we need more such initiatives because our problems are more acute,” Sibal said.

The DS Kothari centre will give undergraduate students a taste of research activities early in life, help them publish papers and encourage them to study further.

“Not enough students are coming into basic sciences and we are concerned about the flight of talent from science courses,” said Pratibha Jolly, principal of Miranda House.

Undergraduates from any DU college can apply to work at the DS Kothari centre. “We will encourage students to take up small research projects during summer vacation so that they explore their potential,” said Ms Jolly .

“Many students are undecided on what to do after a BSc and an opportunity to get involved in research will help them come to a conclusion,” she added.

Set up with an initial budget of Rs 3.3 crore, the centre will also focus on retention of talent and improving the quality of undergraduate science education. It will also look into professional development opportunities for science teachers.

According to the Central Board of Secondary Education, this year 1.6 lakh students appeared for the All India Pre-Medical Test (AIPMT), a 25% decrease from last year. In Delhi, only 26,336 sat for the test as against almost 40,000 in 2007.

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