UG applications to Mumbai University colleges drop to a 7-year low
In a year when more class 12 students cleared the board exams, including a record number scoring above 90% across boards, the total number of applications for admissions to first- year degree courses received by colleges affiliated with the University of Mumbai (MU) are at a seven-year low.
A total of 335,000 students registered for admissions to MU-affiliated colleges this year and made 538,000 applications across courses (a student is allowed to apply for more than one course/college). Last year, MU colleges received 650,000 applications, It received 780,000, 860,000 and 990,000 in 2019, 2018 and 2017 respectively.
“Since the number of students clearing the class 12 exams has been higher than ever, we had assumed applications to various courses would also be higher than last year. While the number of students registering for admissions is the highest ever, the overall number of applications that students submitted has declined to its lowest if compared to the last few years,” said Ashok Wadia, principal of Jai Hind College, Churchgate. This year, the Bachelor in Management Studies (BMS) course at the institute has received the second-highest number of applications with 5,513 applications for 60 seats. Wadia, however, highlighted that the college received lower number of applications compared to the past few years.
This year, increasing Covid-19 cases forced most school education boards to scrap their class 12, and student were assessed based on their performance in classes 10, 11 and 12. The final result saw a massive increase of students in the 90% club. While ICSE and CBSE schools boasted of nearly 50% or more of their class 12 students scoring above 90-95% this year, the number of 90% scorers under the Maharashtra State Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education across the state jumped by 12-fold from last year. For the first time ever, 46 HSC students managed to score a perfect 100%.
“For the past few years, demand for traditional courses like BA and BSc has been increasing and until last year we would receive at least 1,000 applications for our first-year BA batch. This year, however, we’ve received only 500-odd. I believe students are getting discouraged by the explosion of high marks and therefore not trying their luck in all colleges and courses, which was otherwise a common trend,” said Marie Fernandes, principal of St Andrew’s College, Bandra.
In 2020, schools and colleges went into a sudden shut-down mode due to the lockdown and admissions to the 2020-21 academic year had to be held completely online. State governments had already hinted at a virtual academic year and this, said colleges, was one of the reason for undergraduate college applications to drop in 2020 itself.
“This is for the second year in a row that applications for courses have dipped, and the ongoing pandemic and lockdown-like situation could be one of the reasons for the trend,” said Krutika Desai, principal in-charge, Mithibai College, Vile Parle. She added that number of outstation students, which is otherwise a common sight in popular colleges could have dipped this year. “One of the main reasons, I feel, that could have led to a dip in applications could be the fall in number of students applying for colleges in Mumbai from other states and cities. These students make up for a large chunk of applications for traditional as well as self-financed courses, but due to the pandemic, parents as well as students must’ve changed their minds,” she added.
Some colleges also said high marks in class 12 exams this year has given several students the confidence to not apply to “random” courses as back-up. “Every year, students who opt for medical and engineering courses apply for BSc or BSc-IT courses in degree colleges as a back-up plan, but this year, many must’ve chosen not too. Similarly, students who have scored 98% and 99% in their class 12 boards must have confidently applied only to the college/course of their choice, and not to five other colleges as backup,” said the vice-principal of a college in central-Mumbai.
The first merit list for degree colleges was announced on Tuesday, and many colleges witnessed a 10-13 percentage point increase in cut-offs. Students whose names appeared in the first general merit list have time between August 18 and 25 to submit appropriate documents and the fees to confirm their seats. The second merit list will be announced on August 25.