Trend and policy: Stethoscopes or wrenches - How about money instead?

An increasing number of students are opting for Commerce instead of medicine and engineering.


Samia Saleem August 10, 2011

KARACHI: Intermediate college admissions have just begun and on a whole, the majority of girls are choosing pre-medical and the boys pre-engineering. In Karachi, though, Commerce has emerged as the most popular subject for both groups.

Recent figures released by the Centralised Admission Policy (CAP) Committee show that there are 132 public colleges with 11,095 seats for girls in pre-medical compared to the 5,740 for boys. While 15,250 boys and only 8,580 girls can be engineers. In comparison, there are a sweeping 20,300 boys and 14,170 girls in commerce.

Rabia from St Joseph’s Convent School scored 87% in computer science and hopes to make it into the pre-medical programme at the PECHS Government College. She said that most of the girls want to become doctors and choose biology as their major. Students know that choosing this subject can help them keep their options open because, even if they do not get into medical colleges, they can choose from a vast variety of other disciplines. Biology students can go into practically any field after Intermediate with the exception of engineering and subjects related to maths, she added.

Similarly, Moiz of Karachi Public School scored 736 marks in his SSC exams (86%) and wants to go to Adamjee Science College for pre-engineering. Their cut-off mark is 725 marks, and if he does not get into his first choice or his second - NED University of Engineering and Technology - he will switch to marketing and commerce, he told The Express Tribune.

With an 83% in computer science, Irfan of Beaconhouse School, Gulshan Branch, is changing his faculty to commerce in order to study at the Government Commerce College or NCR-CET. Central Admissions Committee Chairman Nasir Ansar explained this trend has been steered by society’s changing mindset. When NED first began in 1977, engineering was considered a tough job and there were no seats for women. However, when women started showing an interest, they were accommodated and this led to a need for seats at the college level too, he added. As there has not been as much of a gender migration in medicine or commerce, seats are created on the basis of demand. These days, most of the colleges expanding or starting up, demand commerce seats and we grant them, he said.

“Maybe we don’t get quality students in science any more because their focus is diverted,” said Professor Mirza Athar Hussain, the head of the commerce department and associate professor at Adamjee Science College. He said that for a college that gets the cream of the batch, it is disappointing to know that many do not even know scientific notations or how to move a decimal point during calculations.

Admission procedure

Students told The Express Tribune that the procedure for admissions is a beaten path. A brochure on the college break-ups and their closing percentages for the last academic year accompanies the admission forms. Students apply according to the slot that their percentage falls into and mention a second and third choice.

Generally preferred colleges for boys are Adamjee Science College, DJ Science College, Delhi College Malir Cantt College and SRE Majeed. For girls it is BAMM PECHS Government Girls College, St Lawrence College and Khatoon-e-Pakistan.

According to the CAP Committee’s figures for this year, 113,716 students from the matric system and another estimated 5,000 candidates from the Cambridge and other boards compete for admissions to public intermediate colleges. There are a total of 100,015 seats available for these students.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 11th, 2011.

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