The Class 11 arts stream, usually considered an easy stream to seek admission into because of low cut-offs, had unusually high cut-offs this year.
Across city colleges, cut-offs to the arts stream increased anywhere between 1 to 30 percentage points compared to last year when the first merit list to the general streams was declared on Friday.
Over the past few years, principals had pointed to the declining interest in the arts at the junior college level. Last year, several thousand arts seats had remained vacant after the entire admission process and this year the number of available arts seats dropped from 36,789 to 35,859.
At Ruparel College, the arts cut-off rose from 78% last year to 84.6% this year. At Jai Hind, it rose from 82.9% to 88.6%, at Mithibai College from 66.55% to 79.2% and at Sathaye College from 37% to 68.85%. At Ruia College, where the arts cut-offs rose by 1.5% points, six students who scored above 95% had opted for arts. "It's good to know that arts has got good response," said Suhas Pednekar, principal, Ruia College. "Students have realised there is scope in it too."
The lowest cut-offs for entry into the self-financing courses after Class 12 are for arts students. "Many students seem to think that the best route for entering courses such as BMM and BMS after Class 12 is through the arts stream," said Swapna Durve, vice-principal of Mithibai College in Vile Parle. "Now even BSc IT is open to arts students after Class 12."
Students, often pressured into opting for science and commerce find there is no stigma associated with choosing arts.
"It's not as stressful as the other streams and has as much scope as them," said Anahita Billimoria, 15, who scored 76% and made it to National College in Bandra, her third option.
Studying arts in a good college is another factor driving students' choices. "For many, the choice of college matters more than the stream," said Jyoti Thakur, a junior college coordinator at Jai Hind. "People are ready to take any stream as long as they get into a coveted college."