So I was recently asked following question (translated)
For the record I have done my BSc in geology and am currently pursuing Masters in Geophysics. I have strong personal views regarding the business side of things of an engineering degree but i am going to restrict myself to answering the question above.
It really depends upon what an individual wishes to do in his/her life. Engineering is usually more application based course. The focus is to find solutions to real world problems. A lot of things like programming, web development, etc are usually included in the course.
BSc goes the other way. Course is more theory based where theories are developed and taught. Focus is on research and development of the field. Geology, biotechnology, microbiology, BSc-IT are niche courses which are more applied and a student can get a job in private sector companies working in their respective fields. But I will not focus on these subjects much as they are not as common as Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics.
In today’s job market, an engineering degree is far more likely to land a decent job than one in the pure sciences. At the end of an engineering bachelor’s degree, student is eligible to get a job straight away whereas hardly any jobs are available after a BSc degree in the fields of ones major. It is almost imperative that a student will at least complete a masters degree before seeking jobs in the field of pure sciences.
So it all boils down to what your focus after a bachelor’s degree will be. A lot of students want to pursue research in engineering fields in which case they will have to seek and engineering degree. For others who do not want to take the stress of the rat race and want to pursue their passion in pure sciences, BSc is the best option. There are a number of research institutes which offer a research position after MSc in India as well as abroad. The overall income in the research field is less when compared to engineers who work at MNCs and Indian Conglomerates. That being said, stipend given for a PhD position in a decent institute is more than some of the engineering jobs landed by the students from lower tier engineering colleges.
In next 5 to 10 years, the job situation may change. engineering jobs may fluctuate but over a period of time, number of jobs will be stable. Research positions are limited and with cuts in the funds to research institutes, everything from PhD all the way up to professorship will be cut. But it is difficult to say. I would also like to mention that dreamers like Elon Musk are emerging who want to make world a better place. If you want to be a part of some project of that sorts, see what a company like ‘Tesla’ or ‘The boring company’ requires. Who knows? may be you will start one to rival Elon.
Make this an informed decision. If you want to study in IIT because you want to, pursue it with all your might without feeling guilty. But if you want to study astrobiology and you will be thrilled to do it for the rest of your life, do not let anyone pressure you into doing anything other than that.
P.S. – It is worth mentioning that a lot of things like advance courses in pure sciences can be taken by an engineering graduate but practically none in applied/engineering sciences can be taken up by a pure science graduate without doing an extra degree. For example an MTech in Geoexploration requires a BTech in Mining engineering but an MSc in Earth Sciences.