Four counselling sessions for BEd admissions to 197 educational colleges in Punjab have left students with no option but to pay fees for each session they opt to participate in so as to get admitted to college of their choice.
Counselling for 39 colleges, government or aided, is conducted by Panjab University, Chandigarh.
On behalf of 143 self-financed colleges, a separate counselling is conducted by Federation of Self-Financing Colleges of Education (FSFCE). Another counselling is done by Lovely Professional University for its 300 seats. Around a dozen educational colleges have invited direct applications from students for admissions.
For every counselling, students have been asked to submit Rs 1,000 as fee and those who wish to join a college of their choice nearer home have to submit separate fee for each counselling session.
"My first preference is a government college and the next a self-financed one. I have no choice but to deposit the fee twice as both colleges fall in different counselling groups," says Pallavi, a student.
"When there was not much difference in the fee structure of the course, there was no need to allow multiple counselling sessions," says Dr Vandana, a lecturer, adding it would put additional burden on the students.
The government has fixed Rs 45,000 as fee for the course while the colleges associated with FSFCEF and Lovely Professional University have fixed a course fee of Rs 49,000.
The students seem to favour government and aided colleges as more than 60% seats in self-financed colleges are lying vacant in the first round of counselling that would close on July 15. In government and aided colleges, more than 15,000 applications have been received for around 6,000 seats. The first round of counselling for these colleges will close on July 20.
"It is a worrying factor for self-financed colleges. As the strength in degree colleges has reduced, we are receiving less number of students. Going by the trends, we expect less than 70% occupancy in colleges. The situation in rural colleges would be worst," says SP Bansal, chairman of the FSFCE.
"We opted out of the centralised counselling with a view to getting better results, but it has not gone the way we thought," he added.
"These days, after schooling, most of the students opt for professional colleges; fewer students are choosing school teaching as profession. Citing this, the entrance test was abolished and colleges were allowed to admit students on the merit of graduation," he added.
Kuldeep Puri, coordinator for B Ed admissions, Panjab University, admitted the additional burden on students. "It was the decision of self-financing colleges to disassociate from us. We are getting overwhelming response and expect to get three times more registration of students in our colleges. Once our counselling is complete, the unsuccessful students would be absorbed by the colleges which have fewer students," he said.
"Students have to pay extra fee for different sessions of counselling, but nothing can be done till the government intervenes and passes orders to all colleges/universities to come under one umbrella as was the norm three years ago," he added.