The first list of cut-off marks released by Delhi University brought no relief to the thousands seeking admissions to its courses.
The spikes in cut-offs were across the board. North Campus colleges increased the cut-offs a year after announcing sky-high requirements. Not far behind were the off-campus colleges that increased their cut-offs by sizeable percentages.
Off-campus colleges increased the cut-offs for BCom (Hons) and BA (Hons) economics, the varsity's most popular courses, by an average of around 2-3%.
Like last year, Keshav Mahavidyalaya announced cut-offs of 94-99% for BCom (Hons). Science cut-offs surpassed records with jumps as high as 15%. In humanities, the average rise was 1.5%. Some colleges, such as Lady Shri Ram College for Women, retained the same cut-offs as last year.
The cut-offs for some of the most sought-after honours courses such as physics and chemistry have been hiked. While the minimum jump in physics, at Hindu College, has been 0.33%, others like Miranda House and Ramjas College have caused a 3-8% jump in the course’s cut-offs.
“One of the major reasons for science cut-offs going through the roof is the marking system among different boards. The number of students who scored above 95% is much higher than it was last year, because of which cut-offs have been increased. In the next two cut-off lists, it may go down marginally," said Abha Dev Habib, professor of physics, Miranda House.
However, Ramjas College took the cake with a steep jump of 15% in the cut-offs for BSc (Hons) physical sciences, while that for courses such as BSc (Hons) chemistry has gone up by 10.5%.
Officials attributed this to the higher numbers of applicants and high-scorers this year. "The number of applicants this time has been high. Applicants have also done exceptionally well and the demand for science courses has gone up. So, we have hiked the cut-offs accordingly after much analysis," said Rajendra Prasad, principal, Ramjas College.
Colleges have in the past few years been forced to admit more students than the sanctioned number as the cut-offs have missed their mark. The cut-offs may have been increased keeping this in mind as well.
Gaining admission to DU’s commerce courses became tougher as all colleges increased their cut-offs for BCom (Hons), BCom (Programme) and BA (Hons) economics.
On the North Campus, where the cut-offs are already above 95%, the increase is marginal. But because the cut-offs are already high, even a slight hike of 0.25% means a lot.
At off-campus colleges, the increase is more substantial but only because they have the margin for steep increments.
But there is some good news as well. At Hindu College, where the cut-off for BCom (Hons) is 96.25%, there are chances that a second cut-off list may be released. “We will admit only those students who have scored 97% in accountancy,” said Poonam Sethi, in charge of admissions at the college’s commerce department.
Applicants for humanities courses will breathe easier than those who have applied for science and commerce programmes.
For the most sought-after honours courses in humanities, including history, political science, sociology and psychology, colleges have raised cut-offs by 0.5-5%.
However, some colleges, such as Lady Sri Ram, have also lowered cut-offs for political science and sociology by 0.5% to 93.5%.
“Cut-offs were arbitrarily decided last year because of the absence of any data. We have used last year's first cut-off list as a benchmark to decide this year’s cut-off list,” said Kanika Khandelwal, professor of psychology, LSR.
This, colleges said, can be attributed to the fact that fewer students from the humanities stream had scored in their late 90s.
Colleges claimed that after last year's cut-off list saw a steep hike, this year's cut-off list for the humanities courses has not seen a sea change.
“Last year, we had increased the cut-offs for philosophy by 9% which has been maintained this year as well. All colleges are playing safe because the number of applicants is high,” said Gitesh Nirban, media coordinator and professor of philosophy, Kamla Nehru College.