The first cut-off list is to be announced for undergraduate programmes at Delhi University in a few days. The question is: is the competition going to be as fierce as it was last year?
In 2015, the cut-offs for admission to Delhi University (DU) went up to 100% in certain courses. Experts don’t expect things to change this year too.
According to Rudrashish Chakraborty, member, DU academic council, “Expected cut-off this year will be according to the applications received. If there are more students with high marks, cut-offs will go up.” This situation is more likely given the overall registrations, which number close to 3.4 lakh.
Conventionally, the cut-offs are highest for commerce and the lowest for humanities. Till last year, there were up to 12 cut-off lists for DU. The main reason was reshuffling of seats because of OBC and SC/ST vacancies under the 27% and 22.5% quota that remained in different colleges and courses.
What to expect
Elaborating on this year’s scenario, Dr Bharat Singh, member, DU academic council and standing committee on admissions, says, “Earlier, when there were excess admissions after the announcement of a cut-off list in the general category, we had to compensate the number of seats for OBC and SC/ST candidates proportionately. This time, not more than five cut-off lists will be published and for the seats that remain, colleges will have to announce a fresh merit list and give admission to candidates on a first-come-first-serve basis. For instance, if a college has five vacant seats after the fifth cut-off in a course, the college will invite fresh applications from candidates who had already registered during the initial registration process. The best candidates will then be selected for these slots based on merit. While this will reduce the rush that is usually seen, it will also mean that the cut-offs will remain high. The difference between the first and fifth cut-off list will also be substantially reduced.”
Students who meet the requisite cut-off need to select the college or course of their choice. The colleges have to admit all the candidates who meet the announced cut-off criteria. Admissions will not be on a first-come-first-serve basis till the fifth cut-off list is announced. Those unable to take admission in a given cut-off list can be considered for admission in the immediate next cut-off list only on the last date of admission, subject to availability of seats.
“Students will not be able to take admission in more than one course and one college at the same time. Also, five lists mean admissions will be handled carefully with stringent checks and be stable in most lists,” says Chakraborty.
“The cut-offs are unlikely to drop significantly in each subsequent list for the most sought after courses like BCom (hons), economics (hons), English (hons) and BCom (pass), especially for general category candidates. There is provision of 2.5% and 5% deduction for honours and pass courses, respectively, for a subject not studied/change of stream,” says Dr Singh.
The cut-off ceiling depends on the standard of CBSE evaluation and results. The penalty clauses are mostly rational and logical. It is a measure to ensure a level playing field for all the candidates from different streams, adds Dr Singh.
“My experience says the drop in the second and the subsequent lists will be marginal, depending on withdrawals,” adds Chakraborty.
This time there will be no concept of uniform cut-offs as such in DU. “This does seem to be feasible. Different DU colleges are quite heterogeneous in terms of location, courses offered and infrastructure etc. The cut-offs are likely to escalate by around 1% to 2% this year for different courses in different colleges, especially in the first list,” says Dr Singh.
However, there will not be any additional eligibility criterion for any category in any college or course. “Additional eligibility criteria is no longer possible since DU doesn’t allow colleges to have the same anymore. However, additional eligibility criteria is meant to meet customised requirements of each discipline. Commerce courses reduce marks of applicants if they have not studied commerce subjects. A course in English (hons) gives advantage to applicants who have studied elective English or English literature since it makes sense academically. I agree that sometimes it makes things difficult for applicants. The problem lies in school boards giving very high marks to students which make admissions very difficult,” says Chakraborty.
While empathising with applicants who have to deal with high cut-offs and penalty clauses, Chakraborty feels colleges are not at fault for this. “Even with such high cut-offs, colleges are saddled with over-admissions since students are getting such high marks. There has to be some rationalisation done to marks given by boards like CBSE which is the root cause of the problem. Since DU is a Central university established by an Act of Parliament, it attracts students from all parts of the country. Hence there is no variable impact of the cut-offs on different boards. “However, because of CBSE’s obnoxious policy of inflated marking, it has given rise to competitive inflation in marks among other state boards who earlier used to be rational,” he says.
While the number of students qualifying the Class 12 exam is going up every year by thousands, seats in colleges have not been increased. “So a high cut-off has more to do with lack of adequate number of colleges offering affordable quality education,” adds Chakraborty.
Interestingly, a committee was formed under Punya Srivastava, secretary, Directorate of Higher Education, Delhi, last year to look into reasons for the high cut-offs.
An RTI filed by Subhash Jha, a student of DU’s Cluster Innovation Centre, revealed that the committee was given the task to explore the possibility of normalisation of marks across various state boards vis-à-vis the CBSE.
Professor Shyam Menon, vice chancellor, Ambedkar University Delhi, who was also a member of this committee, says, “There was a meeting some time last year that the secretary higher education of the Delhi government had convened and I had attended. It was to discuss (among other things) the issue of high cut-offs in DU colleges. What emerged from the deliberations in the meeting, was that the major issue was that of the gap between the number graduating from the schools in Delhi and the number of seats for freshers in undergraduate programmes in the city.”