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Delhi University: Then and now

Today, the total number of students scoring exactly 95 is more than the total number of students scoring between 0 and 100. In the day and age of cut-throat competition for college admissions, a difference of even 0.5 per cent in your marks often determines admission status, writes Manvi Mittal.

Delhi University: Then and now
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Over the years, Delhi University has been going through several changes. Around three lakh applicants from every corner of the city, even the remotest of regions of the country apply for 56,000 seats in DU.

"Society prefers commonality but values only which are unique," says Kunal Krishna Seth, a successful Psychologist, who got admitted to Dyal Singh College for English (Hons) with a mere 76 per cent in 2003, something unthinkable now with the skyrocketing cut-offs at 95 per cent.
Comparing the respective cutoffs of Dyal Singh college over the years shows that there has been a remarkable leap in the threshold-scores, an example of which is reflected in the difference between 76 per cent and 95 per cent in mainstream courses like BA (Hons) English over a period of a decade.
Satyavrat, who is a pass-out of Shri Ram College of Commerce of the year 2011, got admission with 95.50 per cent in B.Com (Hons) as the cut-off then was 94.50 per cent. Now he works with Ernst & Young as Senior Business Assistant. Nikita, who got admission in Daulat Ram College in Psychology (Hons) with 92 per cent says, "I would have never got admission with this percent in Psychology if I would have applied today when cut-off for the same college is as high as 97 per cent."
Not only among colleges but also the difference between cutoff marks of the same college in a matter of 4-5 years brings out the vast gap that the students have, to travel to make it to the top colleges.
The Principal of Daulat Ram College, Dr Savita Roy says, "I think the trend has changed. Earlier the students were not very aware of placements and neither did they bother, but now students opt for colleges accordingly. Students now willingly change 3-4 colleges for better placements based on the cut-offs. Nowadays, everything is very research-oriented, while earlier it used to be rote learning."
This is reflected in the case of the 2012-batch graduate of Daulat Ram College, Disha who got admission at 83 per cent in BA History (Hons). Further, she did her MA in Archaeology and now she is working as an archaeologist with the Institute of Archaeology at Red Fort.
"My college campus placements got me a job in Zimpact for Rs10,000, but I passed the opportunity since it wasn't meeting my requirements. Now I'm pursuing MCom, with which I'll give my SSC exams hopefully," said Riddhi, BCom (Hons), Satyawati College, who graduated this year.
It is quite apparent that in the fields of Commerce and Science, the quality of jobs has declined; one of the few reasons being that the population of applicants has increased manifold but the seats available for them in desirable companies have not been in proportion to the ever increasing number of job seekers.
Ramesh with 88.25 per cent could not hope for seeking admission in any of the colleges under DU after it became clear to him that the cutoffs would not slide a mark less than 89 per cent. Now, the only options before him are to either opt for courses he is little or not interested in or to seek admission to a private university.
"There is a full spectrum of opportunities for students, DU's top colleges are providing good placements, mainly in Commerce," said PK Singh, Professor, Electronics, Hansraj College.
It is clear that there is a strong current emerging among candidates to choose vocational and professional courses for higher education. Also, there is a rising interest in students about job prospects for a settled career in future.
Also to be noted is that the criteria for getting admission in Delhi University have steadily risen over the past decade. While 70-80 per cent were the cut-offs for the year 2006, today the cutoffs are easily crossing the 95 per cent mark, the reason behind such a spike being the moderation policy followed by the CBSE.
Moderations are done in such a way that a lot of people are awarded rounded off marks even when they do not deserve them, to generalise marking. For example, many students actually get 94, 93, 92, 91 but all of them are bunched with 95. This is really unfair because a worthy student is being stripped of the credit they really deserve, while several others are simply being promoted to match higher standards.
Today, the total number of students scoring exactly 95 is more than the total number of students scoring between 0 and 100. In the day and age of cut-throat competition for college admissions, a difference of even 0.5 per cent in your marks often determines whether you make it or miss out the admission.
"There is a quantum jump from pre-90s to post-90s, the board has been liberal in setting examination pattern, earlier there used to be descriptive questions but now it has been changed to short questions with one-word answers," said GS Chilana, Professor, BSc Physics Hons, Ramjas College.
"Quality in our education system is distorted because of the moderation policy followed by CBSE. Why is it that the students are recklessly awarded grace marks?," said Keshav Tiwari, Professor, Political Science.
Grace marks are just giving better results to XII standard students, which makes students and their parents happy; however, this is distorting the quality of education in India.
"I think grace marks should be given to the ones who need them to pass. Upgradation should not be done for above average scorers or toppers. Students getting above 90 in subjects like English do not prove their proficiency in the language. Students are getting full marks in English only because they answer the questions according to the set board pattern and answer key not because they have a good command of language," said Rekha Aggarwal, Principal of Sri Sathya Sai Vidya Vihar Public School.
Patanjali Chaturvedi, teacher of Political Science at Bal Bharati Public School while talking to Millennium Post said that he believes that the system has been pretty much same as earlier, papers are still being set according to guidelines of CBSE. "The level of question papers has come down and another reason for high scores is the way papers are checked and marked nowadays. Now, the board is giving up this moderation policy because of the unrealistic cut-offs like 100 per cent."
According to him, this policy was to pull up the standards of students in the government with better marks, but eventually, the private schools also got this advantage indirectly.

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