Saturday, June 18, 2011

Unrealistic Expectations in DU

As the admission season this year in Delhi University unfolds, it has become increasingly clear that the cut-off expectations are now completely unrealistic. This year, the cut-offs have not been based on the applications of students but have been speculatively decided. The new admissions process requires that students only submit their names to the colleges once they have cleared the cut-off percentage. In such a situation, one is led to wonder what these cut-offs are based on in the first place, if not the putative marks of applicants.

It may be assumed that these percentages are based on a "general perception" of the number of students who have scored high percentage marks in the board examinations. There is no methodical process in place to derive these scores.

Surely there are bound to be inconsistencies. Students from most state boards, with the exception of certain boards in the south, generally score far lower than their counterparts from the national boards, and this is because of stricter marking regimes. However, when seeking admission to a university like DU, they are subject to the same cut-off percentages as the rest.

A television news show two days back dedicated to the issue demonstrated the lack of circumspection in the university. First of all, a sizeable part of it was spent gushing over a girl who was brought to the show because she scored a hundred percent in three subjects. Then, the questions directed to the principal of a certain commerce college, in the middle of a controversial set of extremely high cut-off percentages, went mostly unanswered. When he did answer, his answers were utterly lacking in logical reasoning. He also spoke so poorly and shoddily, one could easily be forgiven for firmly disbelieving that he could be a lecturer at a college, let alone its principal.

He did not address the questions of those who would be at a disadvantage because of their state board marks; he did not address the question of the lack of flexibility in the process, which deliberately barricades students of other streams from applying to commerce courses. In the dialogue, it appeared that there was little or no empathy for the fact that students at the age of 16 cannot be expected to know with absolute certainty and finality the course they will apply for an undergraduate degree in. There was little or no empathy for the fact that all colleges admit students purely on their marks, which makes our university system perhaps one of the most rigid in the world. There was little or no empathy for the fact that the first set of cut-off marks, unrealistically set, create a harrowing time for students in the following couple of weeks who ultimately get admitted anyway on subsequent lists.

It little aided the reputation of this commerce college when its principal replied with a smug childishness, on being told that it's easier for students to get into Oxford or Cambridge on their marks than the said college, that his college was superior in that its students never "broke any rules". He probably thought we would assess the college's standards by the same ones we apply to kindergartens?

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