A few months back, in the midst of the hullabaloo over those with 100 per cent marks being denied admission, one had reported the true health of Delhi University.
The statistics of the applications received for admission to the under-graduate courses told a story which was alarming.
From 3.53 lakh applications received in 2021, the numbers had come down to 2.90 lakh in 2021, a steep fall of about 18 per cent.
The fall in numbers were attributed to many factors including Covid-created lockdowns and shutdowns. But the most alarming was the fact that such scenario was not faced by other universities in the national capital such as the Guru Gobind Singh Indraprashtha University (GGSIPU) and Ambedkar University of Delhi (AUD).
This was largely attributable to the highly inflated cut-off lists put out by Delhi University colleges. Even some ram shackle colleges in the outskirts expecting genuinely good students to join was probably over estimation of brand DU.
With DU failing to provide hardly any professional courses at the under-graduate level, the students sought options elsewhere.
The new vice chancellor Professor Yogesh Singh may have now found the right panacea to arrest the decay.
By introducing entrance through examination from the next academic session, there is a fair chance for the all the students. They would be batting on a uniform pitch rather than fight for the seat with a differently evaluated rival.
A nine-member panel constituted by DU vice-chancellor recommended that the varsity should hold entrance examinations through a Common Entrance Test to ensure substantial objectivity in the process of admission, amid controversy over the high number of 100 per cent scorers from the Kerala Board getting admission to the varsity.
The committee formed under the chairmanship of Dean (examinations) D S Rawat examined the reasons for over and under admissions to undergraduate courses, study board-wise distribution of admissions in all undergraduate courses, suggest alternative strategies for optimal admissions in undergraduate courses, and examine OBC admissions with reference to the non-creamy layer’ status.
DU probably has remained the only central university in the country which is still to shift to admission through an entrance examination.
All its counterparts in the national capital, including Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Jamia Millia Islamia and even state-run Guru Govind Singh IndraPrastha University (GGSIPU) follow a system of entrance examination.
At the GGSIPU, the present DU vice-chancellor’s parent university, a system of combined entrance examination has been working smoothly and effectively for the past two decades.
GGSIPU which follows a central entrance examination for the courses other than law and engineering. In the case of other two, performance in the Common Law Admission Test and Joint Entrance Examination for later is taken into account through the counselling system.
Almost similar model is followed at the Delhi Technological University (DTU), where Professor Singh was serving as Vice-Chancellor before joining the Delhi University.
Admission through entrance examination would also help restore sanity in the admission under the other backward classes’ category, where a large number of students take admission just for the sake of contesting Delhi University Students Union (DUSU) elections and then leave.
However, this panacea should be administered with a note of caution. The entrance examination could see mushrooming of tutorial/coaching centres.
The entrance examination should be designed in a manner that it scouts for genuine talent rather than test the rote power of a coached candidate. That’s going to be quite a challenging task.
Author and president, Centre for Reforms, Development & Justice