Computer Science versus Information Technology

WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE?

When it comes to choosing an undergraduate engineering programme, the demand for Computer Science looms high. Prof Ravichandra attempts to set the record straight between two fundamentally alike streams

Computer Science is the mother of all computational disciplines (Computer Engineering, Information Technology/Information Science, Software Engineering, ICT, etc). Here is an attempt to bring out the factors that determine the commonalities between the various Computer Science courses offered by Indian universities and provide inputs for students who want to pursue a career in this line of work and its allied  disciplines.

They are twins!

When the two were introduced at the undergraduate level,  Computer Engineering and Information Technology had different objectives. But today, they appear as synonyms. Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) and Information Science and Engineering (ISE), offered by Visvevaraya Technological University, Belgaum, Karnataka have minor differences in the subjects they offer. For instance, subjects such as File Structures, Management and Information Systems MIS are covered by ISE whereas Computer Graphics and Advanced Microprocessors are covered only by CSE. But there is a misconception among parents and the student community at large that Computer Science and Engineering has wider scope than Information Science and Engineering (ISE), thereby leading to more demand for CSE. Truth to be told, both have equal scope and students from both branches are equally employable in the IT industry.

When IT companies visit campuses for recruitment, CSE and ISE students receive an equal number of job options. Yet, the strong misconception among parents is depriving their wards from pursuing Information Technology, which is a cheaper course in comparison.  

Consider any of the major technological universities in India like Anna University, Tamil Nadu, Jawaharlal Technological University (JNTU), Andhra Pradesh or Visvesvaraya Technological University (VTU) Belgaum, Karnataka — all of which offer Computer Science courses in the name of Computer Science and Engineering and Information Technology/ Information Science and Engineering. But the reality is a majority of the subjects offered by them are the same. In other words, it is the same wine in a different bottle. 

But parents rate CSE superior to ISE/IT and shell out more fees. The same Computer Science course is offered across the country by many reputed, deemed universities under different tag names but the course content is largely similar. One can check out the respective university websites and verify the syllabus of ISE and CSE courses to note down minor changes in the subjects offered by them.

The idea is to educate parents on both subjects and ensure they do not get disappointed if their wards are deprived of obtaining a Computer Science and Engineering (CSE).

(The contributor is head of department of Computer Science Engineering at Acharya Institute of Technology.) 

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