100% cuts, the new standard for the University of Delhi?


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When the Shri Ram College of Commerce first announced a 100% threshold for BCom (with distinction) in 2011, the move drew strong reactions from stakeholders, including parents and students who believed that the course was beyond their reach. A decade later, the college once again announced 100% thresholds for two courses. But this time, so are seven other colleges, both off campus and on the south campus.

Last year, Lady Shri Ram College (LSR) announced a 100% limit for three courses – political science, economics and psychology. All three were among the most sought after courses in DU.

In 2015, two colleges, the College of Vocational Studies and the Indraprastha (IP) College for Women, set their thresholds at 100% for the BSc (Honors) in Computer Science. This year, three colleges declared 100% thresholds for IT due to high demand.

At all colleges, principals attributed the skyrocketing thresholds to several factors, including a change in the assessment model for students in Class 12, the cancellation of end-of-term exams due to the Covid-19, a lack of data by subject for admissions, and most importantly, doubling the number of top scorers in class 12 compared to last year.

A total of 220,156 students achieved 90% or more grades in their Class 12 this year, up from 196,620 in 2020, a jump of almost 12%. Students scoring 95% or more nearly doubled to 70,004 from 38,686 last year.

About 70 to 80% of DU candidates come from schools affiliated with the CBSE.

In 2019, when the Central Council for Secondary Education (CBSE) last managed to pass the exams for all of the class 12 tests unimpeded, 111,992 students scored between 90% and 100%. This means that the number of high scores increased by 96% between 2019 and 2021, indicating the impact of revised rating systems on board results.

This year, class 12 students were assessed on the basis of their grade 10 jury exam scores and internal grades 11 and 12, with around 70% weighting given to internal assessments.

In the past, colleges have set 100% thresholds for students seeking admission into subjects they may not have studied in school.

This year, Jesus and Mary College maintained a 100% threshold for psychology for students who excluded psychology from their best-of-four combination. In contrast, students who included the subject in the best-of-four calculation need 99% to be eligible for admission.

Hindu College principal Anju Shrivastava said that over the past two years, the college has seen an average of 100 students seeking admission to various courses with 100% cut-offs. The college maintained the 100% threshold for Political Science (Hons) this year.

“Along with the CBSE, several other state councils, including Kerala and Telangana, have also had more students achieving 100% marks this year. Last year, with a threshold of 99.5%, we admitted double the number of students in the unqualified category. From the data we have, we knew there would be a rush for political science; So we wanted to play it safe and avoid over-admissions, which affects the teacher-to-student ratio and places an additional infrastructure burden on colleges.

The high thresholds year after year have also prompted the demand for a common entrance test. To this end, the terms of the Common Entrance Test to Central Universities (CUCET) were submitted to the Ministry of Education this year. However, as CUCET’s approval is pending, DU has continued with its merit-based admission process.

Suman Kumar, who teaches political science at Rajdhani College, said: “A central entrance test for candidates or at least a combined weighting of the scores of class 12 and the entrance test is the only way to counter the high thresholds. The government is also expected to open more colleges, create infrastructure and hire more teachers to meet the demand for higher education.

As there is no first-come, first-served policy at the University of Delhi, colleges are required to admit all applicants who meet the advertised selection criteria, resulting in over-admissions. Essentially, this means that colleges end up admitting more students than the number of seats sanctioned.

In previous years, the DU admission process allowed applicants to select which courses they wished to apply to. Since the process was changed last year, colleges do not know the number of applicants for a particular subject and must rely on trends to assess which courses will receive the most applicants.

Jaswinder Singh, Principal of Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Khalsa College, who is also President of the DU School Principals Association, said: “Many outside students only applied to a few colleges. This meant that off-campus colleges often could not fill their seats. That is why the university decided to remove the possibility of selecting colleges. Later, the ability to select courses was also removed. While this gave students more options, colleges were left without data on determining preferred courses, which is a measure for deciding limits, ”he said.

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