Millennium Post

Cutoffs: That make or break

Anand Mohan J and Pratishtha Nangia explore the admission criteria for several undergraduate courses under Delhi University, in relation to the high cutoffs this year which are causing many students to lose out on an opportunity to enter DU.

Ankush Vats had studied round the clock for an entire year as he had his eyes set on Delhi University (DU). Even though his family could not afford tuition fees, he convinced his father to shell out Rs 12,000 for his Accountancy, Economics, and Mathematics tuitions, apart from a whopping Rs 25, 000 in the last two months for a crash course leading up to his class XII board exams.

Ankush managed to score 90.5 percent and attended Open Day session at DU to clear his doubts and was confident that he would manage to get a BCom (Hons) seat in North Campus. But to his horror, he found that he had missed three cutoffs, and now is looking for a seat in a private university. "I knew that SRCC was out of bounds. I had my hopes on Hindu, Hansraj, and Ramjas, but even in these colleges, the cutoffs are set at 95 per cent. I am waiting for the fourth cut-off, but the admission committee members have told me that there will be a marginal dip and asked me to look for other options. I have to somehow convince my father to pay for a seat in a private university. At least I will not sit for a year at home," said Ankush.
The race for DU: Sky high cut-offs and marks moderation
Every year around three lakh applicants from every corner of the country apply for 56,000 seats in DU. However, only a few make it to the coveted colleges in North and South Campuses. Despite a burgeoning students population in the country, DU has not been able to keep up with the crowd and instead has to resort to high cut-offs, which admission committee members claim is to make sure that there are no over admissions. Now with just 15,000 seats left in DU post four cut-offs, many coveted courses have closed its doors as many students now are forced to choose a course that they are not interested in or have to seek refuge in private universities.
Rhea Chaudhary, who completed her schooling from a private school in Ghaziabad, had to run from pillar to post across both campuses only to find out that several colleges had already shut their doors. "I went to LSR College during the first two cutoffs for BCom (Hons). They closed the list and then I had to go to North Campus to only find that Hansraj, KMC, and Ramjas had wrapped up their admission procedure. My last hopes were pinned on IP College for Women and they also closed after the third cut off. My parents are now telling me to take admission in Amity University," she told Millennium Post. However, when DU released its fourth cut-off list, many aspirants' mission admission had come to an end, as around 90 per cent of the seats had been filled and popular courses like B Com, English and Economics closed at several popular colleges.
A total of 14 colleges including LSR, KMC, Miranda House and Sri Venkateswara College had closed its Economics course. Admissions for B Com, the most sought after commerce course are closed in 15 colleges.
Among the Humanities degree courses, 18 colleges had shut their doors for History (Hons), while only 25 colleges are offering Political Science course. Even though the Science courses have hitherto provided a safe haven to aspirants, as many science stream students opt for competitive exams, yet around 13 colleges have closed admissions for Mathematics (Hons). Admissions for Physics (Hons) are closed at nine colleges, including Gargi, Hans Raj, and Hindu, but are open at colleges such as KMC, Ramjas, Miranda House, Daulat Ram, Sri Venkateswara, where cut-offs remain at the 95 per cent threshold.
While speaking to Millennium Post, many college principals, admission committee members, and professors addressed the serious issue of an overwhelming number of students missing out on DU. While many Academicians were of the view that the skyrocketing cut-offs, the main culprit for students missing out on DU, were because of CBSE and other state boards "gifting marks on a platter" which in turn were causing the cut-offs to rise every year.
Anita Vishen, an admission committee member from Hindu College believes that the marks moderation policy had resulted in many students crossing the 90 per cent threshold, resulting in the high cut-offs. "DU cannot do anything about the moderation in marks. This year we had to admit many students with 95 per cent marks. The cut-offs just decreased by a few points," she said.
However, many teachers from off-campus colleges had claimed that the cutoffs were sometimes set arbitrarily by prestigious colleges to attract the best talent. "The senior teachers from a department set the cut-offs. Good colleges in DU who have a history of success want to continue it and hence shore up the cutoffs to get only the best candidates. This also creates a false sense of prestige like North Campus colleges are better than off-campus colleges," said a Professor from Shyama Prasad Mukherjee College.
Plan B: Amity, IP and Ambedkar University
Even though many students may now have to look at private colleges Dr Rama, the college principal from Hansraj College was of the view that students must not be deterred by other Universities.
"Students think that North Campus is DU. But that is not the case, they may also take admission in NCWEB and School of Open Learning (SOL) as in the end, they will get a DU certificate. Even Universities like IP are not that expensive as they are semi- government colleges," said Dr Rama. With the ever increasing cut-offs, many students have come to a conclusion that the only solution to this problem is the introduction of new colleges under DU. Many had also mooted the issue that Delhi-based students must get special domicile quota as the students from other state boards hitherto scored more than Delhi-based students due to leniency. Even, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had suggested that 28-odd Delhi Government-run colleges in DU must make reservations for Delhi based students.
"I think it will be a good initiative. I have secured only 67 per cent in my board exams and if I had a domicile quota at least I will be able to make it to some college in DU,' said Shankar, who tried to get admission in Aryabhatta College.
Lack of money and surplus of students
The demand for introducing more colleges in DU has been made in every debate over admissions. However, many professors differ on the issue as they claim that it would deteriorate the quality of DU and reduce the University to "teaching shops". A case in point is the recently introduced five-year integrated course in Journalism, which invited the ire of teachers and students associations due to the self-financing nature of these institutes.
Dr Abha Dev Habib, who teaches Physics at Miranda House, was of the view that students from other state boards come to DU, as the state-run colleges in their native areas are not up to the mark, and a decreased funding in public run Universities from the Central Government is one of the main issues. "If you look at the education budget, it has greatly reduced and is not even up to the levels of the 2013 budget. Many students who come to DU have to sometimes sell their land to make it to Delhi. Instead of introducing more colleges, the Government must make sure that the public funded universities in other states get ample funds and not have to compromise on their education standards," she said. The reason why introducing new colleges is untenable is attributed to factors ranging from lack of land to scarcity of teaching staff.
However, for Professor Harish Dhawan who teaches Economics at Aryabhatta College, land was never an issue, "Some colleges have ample land. What is needed is the political will to turn around DU. Some colleges have at least 10-20 crores in their coffers which lie unused. Why can we not concentrate on two colleges every year and change them? An additional four or five storey structure can be built and students may be transferred while the original building can be worked upon," Dhawan said. DU has always faced the problem of student expansion as post the OBC expansion, the University has not been able to cater to the burgeoning student crowd, DU sources say.
In 2006 there was a 1.5 times increase in the student population post the OBC expansion. Because of this trend, many students from non-reserved categories miss out on DU and have to seek refuge in private universities. Even though the OBC expansion has been greeted by several quarters of University society and lauded as an inclusive scheme, the cutoffs for OBC and other reserved category students also continue to remain in the 85-95 per cent category.
To make sure that students get into DU, the University must make a radical change in the teaching patterns and use the help of digitisation and extended teaching to keep up with the times, academics say. They were also of the view that revamping evening colleges will go a long way in catering to the student crowd.
The Principal from SGTB Khalsa, which set the ball rolling with the highest cut-off in 2017 with 99.66 per cent for Electronics, talked about introducing more teachers in DU. "Our colleges close by 4. The need of the hour is extended teaching using digitisation. The students must not be deterred by high cut-offs, and instead focus on the course of their choice," said Dr Jaswinder Singh, Principal, SGTB Khalsa College.

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