Is 100% Cut-Off In Delhi University Fair

Kakali Das

The Delhi University’s first cut-off list is out and has soared up as high as 100%. For the 3rd time it has gone up to cent percent since 2011. Cut-offs are basically calculated taking the best of four subjects in Class XII board exam and this year, as far as the statistics go, 1.57 lakhs students have scored over 90%, which is unprecedented. Also, more than 3.53 lakhs students have applied for admissions for over 70% seats this year. In fact, as the first list of cut-off has risen up to 100%, the Krantikari Yuva Sangathan and the Left Affiliated Students Federation have staged protests against these cut-offs across the country.

Is this cut-off fair at all and if at all it is, how is it fair? What is the reason for the Universities to actually keep such high cut-offs? And if so, then how will this ever provide a level playing field for students across all boards? And what are the problems existing within the system itself?

The cut-off fixed by a college within a University depends on the number of applications and the marks of the applicants. The number of seats designated for each course in each institution is fixed by the capacity which is evaluated by theUniversity Grants Commission and University of Delhi, keeping in mind the infrastructure required – capacity of the classrooms and so and so forth.Nandita Narain, Former President, DU Teachers’ Association said, “When we receive applications we are instructed to not go well beyond the number of seats – for an instance, if there are 50 seats we would not have a cut-off through which hundreds of students would get enrolled.The teachers of an institution can’t afford the risk of fixing the first cut-off haphazardly which will end up in over-admission. When we reach number 50 or 60 or 70, slightly over the number of seats allotted, we need to put a halt there and confirm that particular percentage against the available seats as the cut-off. Now the results that have been coming from the CBSE and other boards are so high and they get higher every year. I know it’s not a satisfactory system but the college and university doesn’t have a choice in it.”

Private universities over the years have ballooned up and students with economically sound families do end up taking admissions in those private universities. But the primary choice of the students is still the government universities which have managed to maintain its standards, despite facing bulks of problems in terms of the deprivation of adequate funds for infrastructure, salaries and the facilities that they require. However, when students don’t get admission in the DU affiliated colleges because of the highest cut-offs they are either forced to enrol themselves into private universities, if they can afford it or end up going to open schools for correspondence courses, where they evidently can’t get proper attention or quality of learning.

In 2020, 38,000 students have scored above 95% which is double the number of students who have scored the same in 2019. Speaking of that Ms Narain said, “That is definitely the crux of the problem; there are some boards like CBSE which are awarding 100/100 too easily. There has to be some sort of formula by which we are able to either normalise the marks across boards as it becomes extremely unfair for a student living in a state where the state board doesn’t award marks as high as another state’s board. And by increasing the marks of the students of the such boardsthey are of the idea that it will improve the students’ chance of getting into a good university. So there is a competition between boards to grant higher and higher marks and we end up neutralising the entire issue. Moreover, entrance exams benefit people who are already privileged and can afford coaching and so on. So it will be extremely unfair for the students belonging to the underprivileged background if we conduct more and more entrance exams. It is the marks system which is heavily weighed towards people who come from a fortunate background. So the students already in the ‘highest marks bracket’ tend be from economically sound families. Sad, but this is the only system we have of giving admissions.”

One of the controversies that came out in 2017 was asking CBSE to not have moderation policy but that came into effect only after 2018, according to CBSE. But as per the reports after 2018, the investigations conducted by the Quint, Times of India, for instance, have said that this policy still continues unabatedly. There were times when even scoring 75% was tough and considered good and one could effortlessly walk into any college he/she desired for. But scoring 100 in all the subjects is duck soup for the students now. It is extremely unfathomable to digest when students score 100 in English or in any language for that matter, no matter how big a laureate he/she is. Literature/language never calls for complacency; it craves for more perpetually. Hence 100 is simply utopian.“While conducting interviews in our college we did find that students with higher marks are not academically as sound as students with slightly lower marks. Evaluating through marks being the parameter is merely a convenient method. In any case, the boards like CBSE and others must be compelled to start rationalising their marks or there must be a normaliser of some kinds for the students of different boards to be compared with by looking at the overall result of a particular state”, she further said.

The kind of pressure this mark-oriented system puts in the students is horrifying. The evaluation process per say doesn’t take into consideration the skill sets of the students. That has to change as well. Students are not really learning but mugging up for the sake of scoring desirable percentages due to such excruciating competitions and the panic of getting into a good institution. Due to the entrance exams students are mostly focusing on coaching institutions rather than spending their last year in school learning. Year after year we have witnessed students committing suicide and are rapidly increasing in numbers. The NCRP data, in fact, shows that in 2017 it was 9,905 and in 2018 it rose to more than 10,000 who died by suicide. The system has been extremely unfair to the youth of the country by denying them opportunities to study further even when they know they have the will and the capacity to get through. The contribution of the economically unsound section in the growth of the country through everything that they purchase in the market is immense. So, the government owes it to the people of the country by providing them an opportunity to be empowered through education since they havebeen unable furnish adequate amount of employment for the people so far. Education, like most countries in Europe should be made free of cost from Nursery to Post-graduation, which is the only way forward. Whereas, the National Education Policy that has recently been announced by the government does the exact opposite; it plans to reduce the currently existing 50,000 higher educational institutions to merely 15,000. They are talking about a contraction and those 50,000 institutions include both government and private.

The call for the hour is of the expansion in the demand; there has been no corresponding expansion in the government colleges, universities of high quality across the country for years now. To have an expansion in the number of institutions which can provide good quality, affordable education to the aspirants is a requisite for the unperceived “acche din” of the people of the country. Is not the lack of access to higher and good quality affordable education the greatest problem for the future of the country? Are we going into intellectual colonisation again by having 90% remaining out of the portals of higher education? The government must invest atleast 10% of the central budget on education and a reasonable percent of that on higher education. If 90% of Indians by birth are condemned because of their economic background, however sharp they may be, are we not sentencing the people of this country to slavery? When you don’t get good education, you can’t get good employment and you can’t be a citizen that can participate in the life of the country. Is it not inherently against the principles of a democracy and our constitution?These should be discussed by the citizens of the country and pressures must be mounted on the government not to move public funded education towards privatisation, which is what is happening currently.

**মহাবাহু**

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