10 people, more than 4 lakh entries: The team behind DU admissions
At the team’s office in south campus’ Institute of Informatics and Communication (IIC) research laboratory, the scene is like any control room — everyone gazing intently into their computers.Updated: Jul 25, 2019 23:17 IST
More than four lakh students applied for admission to Delhi University’s undergraduate, postgraduate, and doctorate programmes this year. To ensure the application process ticked along without a hitch, 10 researchers, including DU students, have been working overtime, armed with a dozen computers, four air-conditioners, and one whiteboard.
At the team’s office in south campus’ Institute of Informatics and Communication (IIC) research laboratory, the scene is like any control room — everyone gazing intently into their computers.
“There is a lot of workload between March and September, and managing the admissions portal is a full-time job. We have been studying user behaviour over the past few years. So this time around, we optimised accordingly and were ready for the load,” said Sharad Mishra, one of the research entrepreneurs who contributed in developing the admissions portal, and has also pursued his masters from the university.
The team currently has three PhD scholars — Manish Shailani, Sunil Kumar and Anil Singh Bafila — pursuing their doctorates from the IIC department. While Manish and Sunil are with the data analytics team who help create algorithms accordingly, Anil is the core architect of the system who designs the application and workflow and establishes coding standards. “Basically, we design what users will see first, as well as designing when the payment window will appear, etc,” said Mishra, explaining the workflow.
Other team members also work on postgraduate admissions, extracurricular activities and sports quota admissions, among other things. With the undergraduate admissions process nearing completion, the team is now focussing on postgraduate admissions which, it says, is more complex due to several “combinations of eligibility.”
While the pilot project for the portal began in 2012, it was four years later that the centralised process for online admissions finally kicked off. “The idea was to involve our own students to develop the website instead of involving corporate agencies,” said Sanjeev Singh, an associate professor at IIC, who heads the project. Singh added that since 2016, several universities have approached the team for assistance on software and automated processes.
The team has noted that over 95% of the visitors who check the admissions website and over 60% of applicants filled their forms did so on cellphones. Analysis of IP addresses and browser data could also provide insights on the region and device from which the website is being accessed. “This data meant that we had to ensure that our site was mobile-friendly and optimised accordingly,” Mishra said, adding that their work involves “over 70 colleges and 80 departments which are like our clients.”
For the first time, the admissions portal was connected with the CBSE’s server which facilitated automatic updating of marks once a student entered their roll numbers this year. “We implemented Application Programming Interface (APIs) with the CBSE, and students did not have to enter their marks on their own. This also reduced a step where marks used to be checked,” Mishra said.
Apart from the undergraduate admissions to over 65 colleges, the portal also deals with admissions under faculty of ayurvedic and unani medicines, faculty of medical sciences, homoeopathy among other things. “There is also a dedicated team to address technical queries through phone or email,” said Divya Karwal, another researcher who handles postgraduate admissions.
The portal also allowed colleges to upload their cut-offs and check those of other colleges which would ensure realistic cut-offs were set, the team said, explaining that this also leads to lower cancellations.
“Apart from this, the move will have saved several trees,” said Singh explaining that if 2.5 lakh applicants were to procure hard copy of forms, prospectus and the 200-page bulletin of information, it would have led to an increased use of paper. “Our carbon credits have also been reduced since students don’t have to travel to colleges to fill up forms.”
Ask the team about their plans for next year’s admissions and the reply is prompt. “We would like to do this in auto-pilot mode. For instance, right now all of us have to sit here and monitor things. We will try to work on that, create better service ecosystems, and rope in colleges,” said Mishra.