By Mayank Jain:
University of Delhi has lived up to the expectations, yet again. Sadly, the area where the university has been most consistent in managing expectations is sky high cut offs which leave a sour taste even in the mouth of high scorers.
This time, the trend set by SRCC of 100% score for admission has been followed by three more colleges. Acharya Narayan Dev College, Atma Ram Sanatan Dharma College and Shyama Prasad Mukherjee College have pegged the cut off marks at 100% for admission to B.Sc. honours in Computer Science.
The problem with 100% cut offs goes deeper than just the tough criterion for selection because it suggests the deep rooted emphasis on marks, more than effort of the education system which is shoddily structured around rote learning and negligible research focus.
An ask of 100% for admission to an undergraduate degree is almost laughable but the trends show that it is here to stay given the high scores achieved by a record number of students every year and all of them vie for the most sought after courses. Colleges join in the race and try to peg cut offs in the first few lists as high as they can to appear more ‘coveted’ and end up having unfilled seats at the end of admission process as a lot of aspirants lose out in the faÃ§ade of inflated requirements.
The injured education system seems to be already on life support with only one university receiving the huge chunk of applications for undergraduate courses while others simply don’t make the cut in a student’s shortlist. The expenditureÂ on education might have increased over the years but we are going nowhere when it comes to undergraduate degrees, especially with the political ball which UGC and AICTE indulged in very recently with FYUP.
High cut offs are a symptom of the bigger disease which has become a vitriolic cancer in every child’s life as he/she is expected to score 100% inÂ class twelfth and the training for it starts as soon as parents can lay their hands on a rote-learning-focused coaching centre. A student in 6th standard is ‘trained’ to study for hours when he/she should ideally be going out and learning by doing in the world, because of theÂ need to study for hours beforeÂ board exams. StudentsÂ might be successful and get around 95% marks by vomiting all that theyÂ memorize during these years. Yet, theirÂ options for colleges are as limited as those of the person who scored 50%. In these circumstances, how can this education be called remotely relevant forÂ a career (not a job), is beyond understanding.
Current students of the university do feel like they achieved something on the dint of getting an admission in a college, but it is momentary. The story of rote learning and no practical relevance of age old courses continue through their time in the college and they end up regretting the decision of going with the name and not researching well.
Gunjit Arora, a student of Business Studies in University of Delhi expressed the same sentiment, “When I hear about 100% cut-offs, I feel that the education system is becoming so diluted that DU is forced to raise its cut-off to such an extent. Due to this, many students who have a lot of potential are deprived of opportunities which can harness their potential. Why are we denying admission to a student with 89% and allowing a 91% student in a course they both have interest in. 2% marks don’t really reflect their intellect. Education system now isn’t the one which people used to praise about, which foreign ministers used to quote and compare. To cram and to move forward, that’s the objective of today’s education system that is prevailing. Practicality has lost its course and if this is allowed to continue, I am sure that even 100% cut off wouldn’t be enough to segregate students for the colleges and courses.”
The university has some lessons to take and the government of India has a bigger role to play if we don’t want to churn out many students who are just seeking degrees,Â withÂ almost perfect marks but hugely imperfect knowledge and understanding of issues.
Sakshi Mittal, who just graduated from University of Delhi with a degree in Arts echoes the same concern about lack of seats and narrow focus of the admission process,
“I don’t know whether I should be proud of my juniors in school who are scoring so well hence the high cut offs or to blame the government who has not increased the number of seats in colleges since the time my parents studied there. I would not say those students did not deserve the marks, but the fact that we need more institutions and a change in the admission process which is more than just scores in the board exams.”
Increasing avenues and bringing better universities is critical if we want to accommodate these high scoring kids who look for quality education after years of hard work and not just stopgap colleges which reinforce the same ‘jugaad’ culture we have grown fond of.
Mark Twain was probably right when he said, “I have never let my schooling interfere with my education”.
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