By Simran Nandrajog:
Amity University is one of the well-known private institutes for higher education in India. Started in the year 2003, with around 120 students; it currently has an enrolment of more than 1,25,000 students across 240 programmes. However, over the years, the institution has also been subject to criticism.
Just like every other university, there are stereotypes that Amity carries as well. Most of which are negative. People assume that all Amity students are ‘rich brats’ with no merit. I have often heard people say, “Amity mein toh kisi ka bhi admission ho jaata hai.” (Anyone can get admission into Amity.) My school teachers used to actually try to motivate us to study by saying that if we didn’t score well in our class 12 boards, we would end up at Amity. So, to find out why it has such an image, I spoke to some of my friends studying at the University.
Anjali Kalsi, a management student at Amity, told me, “One of the main reasons as to why Amity has a bad reputation is because they don’t have a cut-off percentage for admissions. Even the entrance exam isn’t tough to crack. It’s like a last resort because they almost accept anyone and everyone.”
Many who didn’t get into Delhi University (DU) end up studying at Amity. That’s a major reason as to why the college is looked down upon. Ashna, a journalism student, says, “Many students may have scored lesser marks in class 12 than DU students, but that doesn’t mean that they have lesser potential than DU students.” Mridul, another journalism student, explained this further, “When you look at it from a sane perspective, DU cutoffs are unreasonably high and for a student with average marks, DU isn’t really an option.”
Moreover, every student I spoke to said that judging Amity over its ‘crowd’ is baseless since it admits students from different backgrounds all over the country. Even logically speaking, generalising 1,25,000 students is very absurd. The fees are definitely high and living inside the campus is quite costly. But again, that’s how it works in every private university. In fact, Amity is one of the few Indian institutes that also offers scholarships.
Ironically, the problems that students face in the University is far removed from the judgements that they face outside. Nitya Dhawan, a first-year student of applied psychology at Amity, says, “We are not allowed to wear shorts and sleeveless tops in the college. While many girls still wear sleeveless tops and no one really objects, there are some professors who at times do so.” There are also many other disciplinary rules that need to be followed stringently. Another applied psychology student explains, “There are ‘marshals’ on the round who maintain discipline. Anything that can be deemed as ‘indecent conduct’ by the marshal can cost you your I-card without which you cannot enter college. Also, once your I-card has been taken by a marshal, you have to meet the proctor to get it back. It’s not that extreme anymore. But once a student’s ID card was confiscated merely because he was walking with his hand on a girl’s shoulder. So, it’s totally up to the marshal.”
Students are in a constant state of war with the institute because of its extremely rigid criteria for attendance,” says Mridul. A fashion communication student told me, “You need a 75% attendance per subject. Even if a student who doesn’t meet the criteria and is somehow allowed to sit for exams, he or she won’t be given a CGPA of above 7.” She said that there have been instances where students haven’t been granted leave even if they are ill or have a personal emergency.
In spite of all its shortcomings, students of Amity seem to be satisfied. Mahima Chhetri, a student of tourism says, “I am very satisfied as an Amitian. The faculty here is very helpful and encourages students to participate in various events and competitions. They also offer students the opportunity to study in any of the Amity University’s campuses abroad for a semester.” Comparing her course’s curriculum with DU’s curriculum for the same, Ashna says, “They are studying the same subjects as us. But from what my friends have told me, we get more practical exposure.” Mridul told me about how organised the institute is and how it has fantastic facilities and infrastructure. He believes that every student’s journey at Amity varies since it’s up to the students as to how they utilise the opportunities provided to them.
After speaking to so many students from the University, I wondered why we stereotype students on the basis of their college at all? Amity provides good opportunities. All the students I spoke to were satisfied despite major drawbacks. However, it still has a long way to go before it is perceived as an institute committed to providing quality education, than just another money making entity.