High college cut-offs signal unreal abilities (Commentary)July 7th, 2008 - 10:18 am ICT by IANS
Undergraduate admissions in Delhi University and the soaring cut-offs this year seem to be a mirror image of the inflationary conditions in the economy. Only students who have scored above 93 percent could find their names in first lists. Of course, the easiest thing to do is to blame the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), but it is the truth of the ratio of Delhi to outsider admissions that brings the moot point about justice to its own flock. Attributing liberal marking by CBSE examiners for the sky-high cut-off marks is only part of the story of the ongoing admission process at Delhi University. With colleges seeing a considerable increase in the number of applications to popular subjects this time, admission in-charges are claiming that the rise in percentages was only natural.
Between science and commerce, the latter is preferred by a higher percentage of applicants. Interestingly, the cut-off for science this time is the same as last year. But colleges have decided to raise the percentage for commerce, and therein lie the hue and cry of disappointments and disillusioned student seekers.
Reports show that in some colleges, there were 1,000 applications for 30 seats in computer science alone. Most courses across the board have seen a 10 to 20 per cent increase in the number of applications. To tackle the pressure and the inbound rush, colleges have deliberately increased the cut-off marks this time in economics, physics, electronics and mathematics.
What is dismal is the ripple effect in terms of anxiety and desperation for both students and parents. Add to that the new lexicon of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes candidates and those with disabilities. Of course, everyone has a right to seek an admission but the reduction of seats for normal residents of Delhi who are not in the caste or disabled categories will give rise to an unreal situation in which there will be desperation to get in by hook or by crook. How will the colleges tackle the case of students who procure a caste or disability category certificate only for the sake of admission?
For some colleges, like Shri Ram College of Commerce, Lady Shri Ram College and St. Stephen’s, it is about identity and reputation rather than merely good marks that determine the high cut-off marks. For colleges with a higher reputation, the difference between B.Com (Honours) in Ramjas College and Shri Ram College of Commerce is just marginal. While the former is asking for 94.5-96.5 percent, the latter requires 92-96 percent from its students.
Does this suggest that students who scored below 93 percent stand no chance at all? Maybe, especially since the chances of a third list is minimal. What is sad is that the equations for seats will change. The nation may also see many more students claiming to be from the Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes because it becomes a case of a “means to an end”. Students then cannot chase a dream subject but
will have to grapple with the stark reality of fitting in where there’s a seat at a lower register. This year, admissions in the capital city seem to be a summer of discontent.
It seems most colleges, including elite ones like Delhi College of Engineering that conducts an admission test are planning to complete 75-80 percent of admissions in the first list itself. In that case, the second list will have minimal status and there might not be a third list this time round.
Most colleges have seen an unprecedented increase in the cut-off marks due to the large number of students applying. But how will this help resident students of Delhi? They will get pushed to the periphery and will have to seek admissions outside. In fact, most colleges are reporting applications of at least 72,000 students this year - and this itself reflects a ballooning condition of abnormal magnitude.
Outsider applications seem to be the root cause of the spike in cut-offs. Delhi University’s 82 colleges with various types of courses at the undergraduate and post-graduate levels, has only 14 hostels available for post-graduate and less than 10 for undergraduate students, each with a maximum capacity of 250. It is a fact that around 50 percent students seeking admission are from outside Delhi. But residency for students is also a matter of study because a number of houses have turned into rental accommodations.
(Uma Nair is an educationist and art critic. She can be contacted at email@example.com)