Mitali Jain wants to study Economics (Honours) at Lady Shri Ram College but she scored just 91 per cent in her Class XII board exams; not enough to get her what she wants. But the 18-year-old hasn’t lost hope.
“I’ll apply through the Extra Curricular Activities (ECA) quota,” said Jain, who was a part of the debating society in her school.
The Delhi University has provided an option to several of its colleges to admit students under the sports and ECA quotas. While the candidates applying through the sports quota require certain performance certificates, most colleges in DU do not have any such requirement for the ECA category.
Colleges get a large number of ECA applications each year. “A lot of students ask about the ECA admission forms and auditions. Though the seats are less, this quota generates a lot of interest,” said Akshay Dwivedi, a student at Kirori Mal College, who is counselling prospective students at the ECA help desk in his college.
Those who apply under the ECA category usually go through auditions that are conducted by a panel of experts from within the college and, at times, from outside as well. “Students want to know if any certificates are required for applying or auditioning but none are. It’s based only on the applicant’s performance,” Dwivedi added.
So is the ECA quota a ticket into the college and course of your choice? Not really, according to the teachers. “Queries regarding the ECA admissions always come in large numbers. We get more than a thousand applications each year but only a handful of these are selected,” said Kanika Khandelwal, a teacher at Lady Shri Ram (LSR) College for Women.
The college conducts auditions for ECA applicants where a committee decides who gets in and who doesn’t. “Students think that ECA is an easy way to get in, but they are mistaken. Only those who are genuinely talented get through,” said a teacher at LSR, who didn’t want to be named.
Marks are also not of prime importance where the ECA quota is concerned. “If there is a choice between a student with lesser marks and better talent, and a student with more marks but less talent, we go with the former,” said Suchitra Gupta, deputy dean of Culture Council, DU, who is also a teacher at Hindu College.
Hindu College admits close to 12 students under the ECA quota every year and has already sold around 1,000 ECA forms this year.
“We want to dissuade students from thinking that ECA is a way in, if one doesn’t have the requisite marks. The competition is fierce and the seats very few. The selection procedure is transparent. There is place only for the extremely talented,” said Pratibha Jolly, principal, Miranda House.
Even for those who get through the ECA quota, the possibility of getting the course of their choice is not very high.
“We can’t admit more than two or three ECA students in the same course as a balance between academics and co-curricular activities has to be maintained,” said Bhim Sen, principal, Kirori Mal College.