Vagisha Kaushik|Jul 26, 2021
IIT Madras without JEE Advanced: How the online BSc Data Science programme works
IIT Madras’ online BSc Data Science programme allows everyone to join the month-long online qualifier course but only some can complete a degree.
NEW DELHI: The Indian Institute of Technology Madras’ (IIT Madras) BSc in data science allows a student to earn an IIT degree without going through the Joint Entrance Exam (JEE) route. While candidates are spared the intense preparation and competition for qualifying the JEE Main for engineering and then the JEE Advanced for the IITs, completing the programme is still far from easy.
There is no system of entrance exams. Students possessing Class 10-level maths skills can enrol directly. However, not everyone can stay on. After one month, IIT Madras conducts a qualifier exam.
Of the first batch of over 30,000 students to join the qualifier process, only 8,154 passed the qualifier exam in 2020 and were enrolled in higher levels of the programme. The fee for the first month has been kept purposely low and covers the cost of the examination at the end of the month.
As per IIT Madras, the data science programme is the world's first online BSc degree programme. It also offers exits with lower qualifications along the way.
Andrew Thangaraj in charge of the programme said: “When we constructed the programme we wanted to allow a student who has passed Class 10 with mathematics and learn what is there in the programme and slowly build everything to get out with a successful degree and become a successful programmer and data scientist.”
The JEE Main and JEE Advanced together are extremely difficult and “keep 99.99% of the world out”, said Thangaraj. “We wanted to break that barrier and to show what IIT-quality education is.”
BSc Data Science: Admission, eligibility
There is no age limit or stream restrictions to join the course. All candidates need to be eligible for the first month of the qualifier programme is to have completed Class 12 and studied maths at least till Class 10. Once they join, students train with IIT Madras online for a week and appear for a qualifying exam. If they clear that, they are admitted to the foundation stage.
The course is being offered in three different stages - the foundational programme, the diploma programme and the degree programme. Students will have the option to exit from the program and receive a certificate, diploma or degree depending on how far they got. Interested students will be required to pay the fee for the entrance exam.
The students can be based anywhere but the exam centres are currently restricted to India, UAE, and Sri Lanka.
“This programme offers the flexibility of learning at your own pace with the best institute in the country. Through this programme, we are allowing anyone to join the brand IIT and get a degree,” said Prathap Haridoss, a professor at IIT Madras.
He said that the institute has not set an upper limit for the number of candidates who can join the programme. “We have the capacity to scale up if we see a surge in demand,” he said.
IIT Madras is conducting the programme through a dedicated online portal. For students from disadvantaged communities who are able to stay on beyond the qualifier test, IIT Madras offers up to 75% fee waivers; some get 50% waivers. “If your family income is below Rs 1 lakh, you will get a 75% fee waiver. For a fee of Rs 60,000 a student can get this degree,” Thangaraj added.
The institute plans to have a separate placement office for students who have joined the data science programme which will work with students in getting a good internship in the second year of their course and placement at the end of the programme.
Data science jobs
As per the IIT Madras, there is going to be a huge demand for professionals with data science knowledge in the coming decade. Thangaraj said: “Today there is a huge demand for a data scientist who can programme as well. When we wanted to start a programme in the online mode we chose this because this can be offered online and will have huge demand in coming years.”
Haridoss added that the programme is in line with the National Education Policy (NEP) which encourages students to take up courses online and allows for multiple entry and exit options. Students who are pursuing other degree programmes are also eligible for this online programme simultaneously.
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