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The Brain Drain

While migratory birds do return to their origins eventually, migrations in Delhi University are a one-off event, where the better brains are being drained out of the lower rung colleges, reports Pritha Chatterjee.

delhi Updated: Jul 03, 2008 13:55 IST
Pritha Chatterjee

Many students, who are unable to get admission into the colleges of their choice, settle for comparatively lower rung colleges, in the hope of migrating to their first choices later in college life. Here is an inside view of the process, which many aspirants consider an ideal fall-back option.

The basics
Migrations occur mostly in the second year though there is no university rule against the same for the third year. According to Gurpreet Tuteja, Deputy Dean Students' Welfare, Delhi University (DU), "By the time students are in the third year, they are well-settled in their respective colleges, and do not want to shift."

DU allows migrations both at the intra- and inter- university levels. While the former are entertained largely on a cut-off based criteria, the latter is permissible only in the case of job-related transfers of guardians. For such transfers, the university rules make it mandatory for migrated candidates to clear the first year papers along with the second year ones.

"The systems are different in all universities, so it is essential for candidates to clear the first year according to our norms. For instance unlike other universities, we have been following a concurrent system for the last three years." For the uninitiated, this implies all papers being compulsory, with no subsidiary system. Candidates take 75-mark papers for the first year, which are scaled up to 100 in the mark sheets. "The DU system allots 25 marks for internal assessment. Since these students cannot be graded for that in the first year, such a method is followed," explains Tuteja.

The process
After the declaration of the first-year results, students are supposed to contact colleges individually to find their vacancy status. Like the cut-off based UG admission system, each college sets out its individual criteria according to the availability of seats. There is, however no certainty of all colleges accepting migratory students, which translates into a hit-and-trial approach for aspirants.

According to Vidya Kolachina, who migrated from Atma Ram Sanatan Dharma (ARSD) College to Ramjas College, "On an average, you can be hopeful of migrating to better colleges if your first-year result falls at least in the coveted first division category."

The choice of college is followed by a string of administrative formalities, which eat up anything between two to four months. "I could join only a month after the session began. Though the teachers were supportive, it would be better if things could be speeded up," feels Manisha, a migrant from Zakir Husain to Daulat Ram (DR) College.

The gist though seems fairly simple. All you have to do is obtain a Transfer Certificate (TC) from the parent college, and submit it to the college you are seeking admission in. Once they accept it, you pay the admission fee, and hey presto! there is a shift in your alma mater.

Raison-d'etre
The reasons for migrations spring no surprises. Students are largely driven by the higher ranking college tags. There is also a general preference of the North Campus over the South. A considerable number also choose to migrate to DU from other universities because of the transferable jobs of their guardians. What could definitely be cause for some celebration is the fact that most migrated students consider the faculty to be more or less at power in all colleges.

"Being an outstation candidate, I hardly knew the nitty-gritty of the North versus South Campus. We shifted near North Campus, and I did not want to waste precious time traveling. Also having lived in Hyderabad all my life, I was hardly aware of the city routes," says Kolachina.

"For me, the North Campus tag was a definite driving force," offers Manisha.

The aftermath
The initial reasons not withstanding, most migratory students are glad they took the plunge. "Being in Ramjas, I was exposed to a lot of international seminars and events. The environment is much more dynamic in North Campus where students from different colleges and universities get together for various academic and extracurricular programmes. In ARSD, I had never heard of a WTO conference," says Kolachina.

"In fact I attribute my selection at Cambridge University for my Masters, largely to the exposure I was able to obtain at Ramjas," she adds. Students also feel that campus colleges have better infrastructural facilities, including more regular classes.

"Though the faculty was excellent at Zakir Husain in first year, I do hear of some problems being faced by my classmates there, in the second year. The syllabus is dragged for far too long, whereas here we finish our course well on time," feels Manisha. She in fact went on to top her college in the second year, and is currently awaiting her final-year results, even as she plans for an MA in English, for her post graduation.

The grass is, however, not always greener on the other side. Moosa Khan who did manage to cross the landmark 60 per cent in his second year, chose not to leave his 'parent college' Zakir Husain. "By the end of second year, college feels like home, you tend to find your own ground." For him, at least the comfort of familiar territory scored over the lure of a bigger college brand. A year later, he has found his calling in faraway Mumbai, choosing a PG Diploma in Advertising and Marketing at St. Xavier's.

So much for brand value!

The vicious cycle
It is the so-called lower-rung colleges, which seem to be getting entangled in an unpleasant web of sorts.

"Making a topper out of a 90 per cent student is no Herculean task. Hence, quite expectedly the campus colleges walk away with the glories. What is decidedly more credible is that within the framework of available infrastructure, off campus colleges are producing a handful of first division students every year," says Anup Chatterjee, Senior Reader, Department of Economics, ARSD College.

But the tragedy is that most of this creamy layer prefers to shift to campus colleges after their first year "If our better students always leave us, how are we to improve our so-called rank? The results are after all the major criteria for determining a college's position," says Chatterjee.

Enter, the 'vicious cycle'. Such colleges, as it is, get students from lower percentage brackets, because they are considered lower rung. Now, even if they manage to produce good results from some in the first-year, such students migrate elsewhere by the second year The cycle has thus been going on year after year.

Given such a situation, the hierarchy among colleges is progressively becoming permanent, with the less known colleges derived of opportunities to improve their status.

Another point of consideration is that off-campuses colleges are relatively newer than those on campus, many of which were around even before Independence. Therefore many feel drawing a comparison in terms of their facilities is unfair.

"The campus colleges have had almost double the time, to develop those facilities. Besides, how are we to improve ours, if the better students inevitably flock to campus?" laments Chatterjee.

The way out
"First, the university authorities should be less paradoxical," offers Chatterjee."While, on the one hand, they cite all colleges in DU to be at par, they offer the migration solution to many aspirants, almost like a solace. The child, in such a situation, enters the college with the mindset of leaving it."The lower-rung colleges should also pull up their socks and try to better their facilities. "More international conferences and research avenues should be organised in these colleges. Also, placement cells should be set up to assist students in the course of their careers," he adds.

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