“Don’t restrict yourself to careers in the medicine or dental stream. Think beyond the obvious and stay ahead of the game” 

Prof Sunil Khanna, Vice President, NIIT University
 Authored by :
Prof Sunil Khanna,
Vice President, NIIT University

Back in 2016, the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) replaced all medical exams like AIPMT and individual MBBS exams that were previously conducted by different states and universities. It was a bold step in the field of Indian education and the exam that is now conducted by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has become the single authority to allocate seats to medical colleges across the country based purely on merit.

Now here’s a simple math. This year, more than 13 lakh aspirants had registered for NEET 2018 for admissions to approximately 90,000 MBBS and BDS seats. That means, more than 12 lakh aspirants will certainly not make the cut. Sad but true, securing admission in a medical or dental college has undoubtedly become tougher over the years. But then does it mean that a massive number of dreams and aspirations will be crushed to death? Those candidates who missed their only chance at a coveted medical or dental seat this year will have nowhere to go?

Not really. It’s important to know that not making it to the NEET list is definitely not the end of the world. One must not be disheartened at losing a chance at a medical seat because it does not mean that their dream of associating with the world of science and development can never be fulfilled. Rather, it is time to look at an entire host of opportunities available, beyond medical and dental education. We are living in the highly disruptive 21st century, where professional courses in Allied Health services are all the rage. Pursuing specializations like microbiology, botany and biotechnology can, in fact, open a whole lot of lucrative alternatives.

Change the game

Until recently, it was preposterous for a biology student to even think of a profession in areas like technology and engineering. However, the career landscape is fast changing globally as well as in India. With more and more startups setting base in the country, the demand for knowledge in both biology and computers together is expected to rise exponentially. Catering to that demand, NIIT University (NU) has been a pioneer in identifying that opportunity and leading an education-change wave by introducing an integrated Master’s Programme for biology students, clubbing it with computer science. The 4-year Integrated Masters Programme in Computer Science along with BTech Biotechnology is intense, robust, holistic and curated to inculcate a strong research bent of mind for students.

At the heart of the M.Sc. Computer Science Programme at NU is the university’s four core principles: Industry-linked, Technology-based, Research-driven and Seamlessness. The focus is on developing collaborative opportunities in biology and computer science.  Keeping with our core principle of seamlessness, and being aware of the changing nature of jobs and workplaces, at NU, we acknowledge that school students need to be given the flexibility and support to change their career choices and the four-year integrated M.Sc. Programme in Computer Science is designed to address these very needs. One of the greatest advantage that the NU course scores is the fact that it is constantly advancing in lines with the rapidly changing needs of the industry. For instance, the course now additionally emphasizes on text and data mining tools – the gen next buzzwords. Within biotechnology, these tools are meant to use specific algorithms that go through scientific research to provide relevant insights into the field. In turn, this will increase the R&D efficiency of a project by reducing the scientific literature research process and allowing for the development of new hypothesis and discoveries. It means that the time and effort research costs will drop significantly.

NIIT University also offers B Tech Biotechnology to students of biology.  At NU, we believe in enabling students to develop a strong theoretical knowledge base, while keeping in mind the business needs of the biotech sector globally. In our methodology, students are made competent in the field of biotechnology through stringent training in the areas of Microbiology, Biological Chemistry, Analytical Techniques, Molecular Biology & Genetic Engineering, and Bioinformatics. However, the best part about this course at NU is that it integrates theoretical knowledge with hands-on practical experience. The four-year course includes modules on Molecular Genetics, Industrial Biotechnology, Plant Biotechnology, Food Biotechnology, Environmental Biotechnology, Computational Biology & Bioinformatics and contemporary Biotechnology. In addition, through the course, the student biologist gets a comprehensive overview of computing and an understanding of the concepts, principles and skills and their application and extension, and a practical experience in computing, as applied to biology.

Adding on skillsets

Most often, students complete a course and find that they do not have the necessary skillsets to operate in the industry. At NU, we are committed to bridging the gap by empowering our students with the required technical and analytical skills to enable them to have potential employment in the relevant industry, education, research, and management. In addition to this, we arm our students with an adequate background of Biotechnology, Engineering, Humanities, Social Sciences and Management, thereby empowering them to play an effective role as a productive member of society.

What’s next?

On completion of the Biotechnology programme at NU, the option of several lucrative careers opens up for the students. From a research scientist, forensic DNA analyst, clinical researcher, and microbiologist, to marketing manager, science writer, bioinformists, quality control officer or production in-charge, there are several options in the food, chemical, pharmaceutical, aquaculture & agricultural industries. Companies such as Hindustan Lever Ltd, Thapar Group, Indo-American Hybrid seeds, Biocon India Ltd, Bivcol, IDPL, India Vaccines Corporation, Hindustan Antibiotics and other Pharmaceutical companies are on the constant lookout for talented and skilled employees. Additionally, the Integrated MSc programme enables students to work in IT organizations such as IBM, Microsoft, Accenture, Tata Consultative services etc. as Data Specialists, Software Development Engineers, Web Designers, Digital Marketing Specialists and SEO Specialists, among others. 

The sky is the limit

For students who choose biology-related concentration areas such as Bioinformatics and Computational Biology, they would have an advantage of working in both IT and Biotechnology, Pharma, Healthcare and allied companies. Cross-functional roles such as Bioinformatics Analyst and Computational Biologist are quite a rage these days.  They would be part of interdisciplinary teams consisting of molecular biologists and biomedical scientists who work towards collaborative innovation, targeted analytics, and the development and deployment of next-gen solutions and platforms in areas such as drug discovery, drug delivery, genome sequencing, etc.

Another advantage of associating with NU is the fact that we are dedicated to forging strong industry linkages. It remains one of our core principles. This ensures that the University is associated with the best organizations and institutions in the field. This has been the primary reason for an exceptional placement of 100% this year. We strongly believe that skills and knowledge are the key drivers of socio-economic development in a country. Therefore, our commitment to scaling up Next Gen skills training efforts, starting at the university level, are targeted to meet the needs of future employers, so as to drive economic growth.

Coming back to NEET and merits, know that the pot of gold does not glimmer only at the end of the MBBS or BDS rainbow, for those willing to take the road less traveled - the 4-year Integrated Masters Programme in Computer Science along with BTech Biotechnology - the sky is the limit.