The Delhi University (DU) has done it again. Once again, the premier institute, hailed as one of the best in the country has announced a bizarre cut off list which requires student to have as high as 100.75 percent for admissions. As this central University prepares for a new session, the inane cut off list has left many students fuming and led experts to ponder about the quality of higher education in the country.
Sky high cut off percentages are not new for DU aspirants. Every year the University’s cut off list tends to increase by 0.25 to 0.5 per cent. In 2011, the reputed Shri Ram College for Commerce (SRCC) created a stir when it announced a 100 percent cut off for one of its courses. Much to the surprise of many, there was competition even then. But it is not only the colleges that are at fault. The intense criterion is set due to the large number of students securing exceedingly high marks. For instance in 2011, 4,000 students scored 95 percent and above in the CBSE boards across India. This year, the number reached almost 10,000. More than 60,000 students scored above 90 percent. Given the limited available seats and the unrealistic marks, it inevitably leads to unreal cut-offs.
The flaw is in the high school grading system. Thanks to its branded image, the DU naturally attracts not just thousands, but hundreds of thousands from all over the country. Almost 3 lakh students applied for 54,000 seats. Amidst the tussle for scoring ‘above 95 percent’ and getting into DU, students get a false sense of academic excellence. Results from the CBSE exams this year showed many students in the Humanities stream scoring a cent percent in subjects like History, Sociology and English. Experts say that this will result in students over valuing their own performance making it harder for them to compete later on in the global arena.
But despite hundreds scoring seemingly ‘high’ marks, not all are lucky. Even those with good marks cannot heave a sigh of relief as colleges, which normally announce 2 – 3 cut off lists, sometimes close admissions just after the first cut off list. There is a huge imbalance in the demand and supply, amply reflected by the number of seats available and the number of applicants. For instance, the seats available at SRCC currently are still the same as it was 25 years back. But the demand side has exploded with students appearing for the class 12 exams increasing every year. The much coveted DU seats are also a far cry for many government school students, whose faulty management hinders their access to quality education. What’s even more worrying is that they have very little options to pursue. It is impossible for government school students to afford the insane tuition fees of private colleges.
With the numbers spiralling out every year, the whole system is only sure to get even more ludicrous. Many students thus opt for the not – so- highly- held private universities mushrooming in the capital. In 2013, Amity University received 2 lakhs application for 12,500 seats levelling it with DU in terms of competition. Most of the applicants were rejected by the DU. But with their profit motive and quality of education at question, private Universities are not the solution.
The government, well aware of the situation is yet to provide an answer. Although former Minister of Human Resource Development Kapil Sibal announced ‘over arching’ reforms keeping in the mind the ‘devaluing’ of higher education, nothing changed. An immediate step should be an increase in supply side. Secondly, the government needs to upgrade the quality of education in its other centralized universities. Although there are almost 50 of them, none attract as much attention as DU. It will be students who will face the brunt, until and unless immediate changes take place.