DU - Systemic Problems or Problematic System?
The University of Delhi began its undergraduate admission process on the 1st of October with the announcement of the first cut-offs, marking the start of a rat race symbolized by intensive competition, disappointments, chaos and the subsequent empty promises of bringing about a real change with each passing year.
The Rat Race
The releasing of the cut-offs is marked with high levels of anticipation each year among the lakhs of students hoping to get their foot in the door of some of the most prestigious colleges in the country. While this should be a matter of pride for the everyone alike, for the past few years it has brought with it a plethora of problems for both sides; ranging from lack of infrastructure and overcrowding to ridiculously high scores, leaving no room for anything less than perfect scores- which in essence is not a true judge of one’s capability
HIGH CUTOFFS - This year cut-offs soared to cent-per-cent for 11 courses including the likes of Political Science, Economics, Psychology, B. Com, English, etc with close to 8 top colleges like Hindu, LSR, SRCC, Shaheed Sukhdev, etc resorting to this method particularly to avoid over- admissions.
The release of the scores led to a wave of dismay among the students with some pointing out its lack of practicality, while others saying the system refuses to give a chance to anyone less than a genius, turning all of them into irrational clones. Some say the problem can only be resolved with a fair checking system at the school level while others say that the issue can be resolved only by increasing the difficulty of board exams.
There is some truth in these arguments as this year close to 70,000 students managed to score above 95%, which is almost double of the 38,000 from last year.
While students rightly feel that such high scores extremely reduce their chances of getting into the preferred colleges even with decent scores of 95-97%, the system is to blame.
A few of the reasons for the same are as follows:
Over-Admissions: This year, the university offered 70,000 seats for admission to undergraduate courses; up from 66,000 last year, thanks to the addition of 4000 seats under the EWS quota. The enormity of this problem can be gauged from the fact that 59,000 applications were recorded in the first round of admissions itself. This, coupled with the fact that there are no specific further criteria for rejection meaning all students who satisfy the cut-offs have to be admitted at all cost, hence over admissions abound. The Political Science programme at Hindu College is facing this dire problem: We have received 100% score applications from 33 unreserved candidates, 62 OBC candidates, 4 SC candidates, and 3 EWS candidates. “Because all of these students meet the general cut-off, all of them will be taken as general admissions, and the number of reserved seats will have to be proportionally increased”— a teacher said.
Lack of Infrastructure: There have been concerns over the lack of infrastructure and teaching facilities with the principals of various colleges saying that while they are ready to admit more students, the lack of infrastructure doesn’t allow it. The colleges have to resort to using the same classrooms for multiple courses; in addition, the low funds mean new buildings, desks and seats cannot be added while the equipment required for practical and science courses also lacks. Moreover, “a majority of teachers at the university work on an ad-hoc basis on 4-month contracts, resulting in the teacher pupil ratio being skewed.”, says another.
Misrepresentation: The issue of regional misrepresentation is another factor that has marred the process this year. A teacher at Ramjas College highlighted the fact that they had received 32 applications for its Political Science course; interestingly only 2-3 applications were from CBSE, the rest belonging to the Kerala State Board. Even students from the Maharashtra and Punjab State Boards have managed to score quite high, a trend never seen before, thus increasing competition to a cut throat level and upsetting the diversity ratio.
The root cause of the issue seems to lie in our education system to a certain extent where a student’s self-worth is determined by the marks they score. Add to it the new challenges brought by the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, which upset the level playing field in terms resources for education, and all of this creates a recipe for disaster.
What we need is not soaring cut-offs and ridiculous percentages but change that matters, with everyone being entitled to a fair chance.
~ Meghna Singh