Race for admission

The ridiculously high eligibility criteria, in terms of marks in the qualifying examination, for admission to courses in some Delhi colleges have attracted much national attention. The cut-off marks for admission to a commerce degree course in a college was as high as 100 per cent, which meant any student who scored less than cent per cent in the Class XII examination, could not hope for admission. The cut-off marks in many colleges ranged from 95 per cent to 100 per cent. This was not just in the case of science courses in which students score high marks but also for humanities in which students find it difficult to secure very high marks. In one college there were over 30,000 applicants for just 400 seats. In general the cut-offs announced by colleges this year were 3 per cent higher than last year.

The high cut-off marks indicate the intense competition and the scramble for seats in colleges. They starkly reveal the inadequacy of the higher education system to cater to the needs of students who pass out from schools. The problem is not  just one of availability of seats but of the quality of teaching in most colleges. It is the race for admission to good colleges that make them to set fantastically high cut-off marks.  It is needless to say that the mismatch between demand and supply has engendered a system of malpractices. The uncertainty and mental stress experienced by students and parents in such a situation can well be imagined.

The minister for human resources development Kapil Sibal says he feels sorry for students and their parents but the government has to do more than express sympathy. The number of higher education institutions has to be much more than they are and the standards have to improve uniformly so that there is less pressure on colleges which are supposed to be good. According to the National Knowledge Commission the country needs 1,500 universities to cater to the needs of students who aspire for higher education. School education has expanded in recent years and there will be more students knocking at the doors of colleges in the coming years. Implementation of the right to education act will add to the demand. Comprehensive strategies which increase the opportunities in higher education are the need of the hour. 

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