Students aspiring for junior college admissions this year have something to rejoice to. Though admissions to all open-category seats to first year junior college (FYJC) will be done only online, students have a better chance of getting a seat in a coveted college this year.
This is because, for the first time in several years, some of the city’s most sought-after colleges have increased their intake by 20 to 25 seats, thanks to the new online staff approval system. Aspirants can take heart in the fact that there are nearly 4,107 more seats in the online admissions this year, increasing the number of seats available this year to 1.49 lakh, from last year’s 1.45 lakh. Importantly, some of these seats are in well-known colleges, which are usually the first choice of applicants.
These colleges will be forced to accept more students this year, as the government has brought in a new online-staff-approval system. Under this, colleges have to upload the number of students and teachers online and approvals will then be given based on the required student-teacher ratio of one teacher for every 40 students. Staff approvals are needed by colleges to get salary and non-salary grants from the government for their aided divisions. Earlier, colleges were not strictly following this ratio.
“Since staff approvals were done manually before this, we could get away with giving approximate figures and not filling students to the full capacity as there was no check,” said a principal of a reputable college in Matunga.
“But now that the approvals have to be done online, we have to give exact numbers following the 40:1 student-teacher ratio.” As a result, the intake-capacity in most big colleges has increased by 20 to 25 seats.
“Our intake capacity has slightly gone up because of the new system,” said Jyoti Thakur, former vice-principal and executive coordinator of the managing board of Jai Hind College, Churchgate, a popular college.
“It has increased marginally for all colleges, as we will have to balance out the number of students in classes XI and XII, since a few students might fail or leave after class XII. Adjustments have to be made accordingly so that our teachers do not become surplus because of less number of students,” she added.
Some principals, however, said filling classrooms with students could affect the teaching quality. “We have as many as 120 students in one division in arts, commerce and science each,” said Marie Fernandes, principal, St Andrew’s College, Bandra. “What kind of teaching can happen in such packed classrooms? In self-financed courses, we have no more than 60 students per division.”
In the past, the sought-after colleges have not been able to increase their intake capacity owing to shortage of infrastructure. Colleges in South Mumbai like HR, Jai Hind, KC College in Churchgate, which are coveted for commerce, arts and science, have always complained of lack of space to increase their classroom size.
Additionally, 28 new colleges opened on self-finance basis (students pay full fees and are not subsidised through grants) have further increased the number of seats. These colleges are located in Jogeshwari, Malad, Kandivli, Borivli, Bhandup, Mulund, Thane, Kurla, Chembur, Navi Mumbai, and Kalyan, along with some in existing junior colleges.
But education officials fear the seats in these new colleges may not find many takers.
“As these seats have been added to relatively unknown junior colleges, only low-scorers opt for them. The seats usually remain vacant throughout the admission process,” said BB Chavan, deputy director of education, Mumbai region.
Being self-financed, students securing these seats have to pay around Rs 10,000, much higher compared to the Rs 700 paid for aided courses. “Students don’t want to pay so much. The main problem is students apply only to a handful of popular colleges in the city. Unless these colleges increase their seats, the cut-offs will remain high, even though the overall number of seats has gone up,” said Chavan.
Students said they were relieved by the increase in seats. “Since this year we do not have the recourse of changing our seat offline if we are not happy with the one allotted online, it is a relief to know that even reputable colleges have more seats this year,” said Abhishek Mane, an FYJC aspirant from Vile Parle, who wants to pursue commerce.