Delhi University (DU) gives special consideration to sportspersons during admissions but what if they perform excellently in their chosen sport and fail to log in the attendance mandatory for appearing in exams?
When Unmukt Chand led the Indian team to victory in the final of the ICC under-19 cricket world cup against Australia last month, he was hailed by one and all for his efforts. Off the pitch, things weren’t quite so wonderful as his college, St Stephen’s, detained him in first year for poor attendance.
The issue seems to have been resolved for now with St Stephen’s promoting him to the second year of his undergraduate studies, but the question remains: should there be a separate attendance policy for sportspersons in universities such as DU? HT Education spoke to some principals of DU colleges, officials and international-level players to find out.
A softer touch, please
“Education is the most important thing for anyone. For me, it’s a part of cricket. It helps a sportsman in many ways — it shapes your personality and helps you develop a perspective towards what you think and do,” says Unmukt Chand, a student of the BA programme.
The Delhi player also wishes the university would be softer on him and other students taking admission under the sports quota. “We don’t need extra marks for excelling in sports but if the university is a bit lenient, it will be a good move,” he says, adding, “when you are not allowed to sit for the exams because of poor attendance, you lose a little bit of motivation.”
Chand says that if a student can manage to score good marks despite poor attendance, then attending a fixed number of classes in college should not be expected of him or her. “But this doesn’t mean you don’t attend college at all,” he adds.
Badminton champ Saina Nehwal seconds Chand’s views, saying relaxation in attendance should be given to sportspersons. She also suggests some ways in which athletes can cope with studies while on tours etc. “It is easy to miss classes up to certain levels, but after high school, studies become more specific and continuous. So missing out classes can make a lot of difference. In such cases colleges can make a special effort to take a few extra classes in technical subjects. Some condensed form of courses should be made available for the players. I could not cope with studies while I was playing so I had to leave midway,” says Nehwal, who studied at St Ann’s Junior College for Girls, Osmania University, Hyderabad.
According to tennis star Yuki Bhambri, colleges in Delhi are not as cooperative as schools. “I have seen from the experiences of all my sisters, cousins and friends. They have to have a certain percentage of attendance, which is just not possible if you are competing at the international level. Therefore, I enrolled at the School of Open Learning in Delhi University where all I will have to do is just appear for exams,” says Bhambri. The 20-year-old, however, feels “it’s unfortunate that we do not get a degree for the number of hours we put in for training and competing in sports.”
Officials of the Delhi University Sports Council (DUSC) say that currently there’s no strong policy that works for the advantage of students taking admission under the sports quota. “We are in the process of framing a policy regarding attendance and examination of sportspersons. Till then, all students are treated on par when it comes to attendance,” says Mukesh Agarwal, joint secretary, DUSC.
College principals say they have to adhere to university rules. PC Jain, principal, Shri Ram College of Commerce, says, “For attendance, students can have the director of physical education write to the college. The sports quota students have to get at least one-third attendance to be allowed to write exams. We allow students with an attendance below 66% to take the semester exam on the condition that they will fulfil the criteria in the next semester.”
Jain, however, feels undue benefit should not be given to anyone. “If someone is excellent in a particular sport and is unable to attend regular college, he/she should not be considered for a degree in the course he has enrolled for. A proper system of giving honorary degrees to such players should be in place,” he adds.
Hindu College officiating principal Pradumn Kumar, however, feels there’s a need to modify these rules so that the players do not miss out on studies. “We need to have a policy which is sportsperson-friendly and where all sports are treated on par,” says Kumar.
Should players get concessions?
Mridul Anand, ARSD College
I don’t think a good sportsperson should be given special concessions. When one gets favours, he might lose interest as he knows that people will favour him no matter what. Giving concessions to some is an unfair practice. Every player should be treated equally
Mihika Morris, St Stephen’s College
Special concessions should be granted to good players like Unmukt Chand. Instead of traumatising students because of short attendance, colleges should arrange for extra classes. Not letting them sit for exams could be discouraging, resulting in many losing faith in sports as a career
Vaibhav Maheshwari, SRCC
A good player deserves special treatment when his or her academic performance appraisal is in question. It would be unfair to coerce people into studies when they’ve got other outstanding talents. Discriminating against them on the basis of the level of their game wouldn’t be fair