As many as 11 colleges under the University of Delhi (DU) offer BA (Hons) Psychology course, of which seven are all-women institutes. The remaining four are co-education colleges, which means that boys have to compete further with girls to secure a seat.
Along with the sky-high cut-offs, male candidates who aspire to pursue a career in psychology face a tough fight to get admission. Recently, Aryabhatta College released its second cut-off list and had kept the 98.25 per cent cut-off for BA (Hons) Psychology, which was pegged at 98.5 per cent in the first list.
High-cut off and increased competition
Zakir Husain Delhi College had kept the first cut-off for Psychology (Hons) at 98 per cent with one per cent relaxation for girl applicants. The college has not released the second cut-off for the course as the seats have already been filled.
Nandita Babu, Professor, Department of Psychology, DU, told indianexpress.com that the varsity has taken note of the gender disparity in the availability of seats and is taking initiatives to start the course at other colleges.
“There is a growing interest in the field among students, both boys and girls, largely because of the changing narrative around mental health. With increasing awareness, it has opened up many new avenues for students to get employed right after completing an undergraduate degree. Counsellors and therapists are needed in almost every field, be it schools or corporates,” she said.
The university’s department of psychology had planned to start an honours course on the subject at Hansraj College this year and the team even the college for the same, but it did not work out amid the pandemic and is expected to commence in the near future, she told.
Gender glitch in the seat matrix
BA (Hons) Applied Psychology is offered at six DU colleges and three of them are all-girls. This year, the university has a total of 310 seats for the same and 145 are by default reserved for girls. The remaining 165 seats are in co-ed colleges, meaning that not all of them are available for boys.
For Psychology (Hons) too, the picture is more or less the same. Of the total 622 seats available this year, 408 (65 per cent) are in women-only colleges while only 214 are available in co-ed colleges.
Delhi University Teachers’ Association president Rajib Ray, who is a professor of philosophy at Kirori Mal College (KMC), said that most honours courses face the same trouble including the ‘top’ colleges to pursue psychology in DU are all-girls.
Not self-financed = no funding from UGC
“There is a long history as to why these courses are offered at only women colleges. Now, the UGC is not providing permission to start courses in other colleges if they are not in self-financing mode, which is not a favourable mode for a public institution. In the absence of funding from the commission, it becomes difficult for colleges to keep the courses afloat. Starting these courses in self-financing mode would also translate into higher course fee and no job security for teachers,” he said.
Besides, the university already faces an infrastructural and human resources crunch, and the only way to bring gender parity is to increase funding, Ray added.
Rose Christina Topno, assistant professor at Ramanujan College’s Department of Applied Psychology, said the perception of the field being women-dominated exists but it is reinforced by the unavailability of college seats.
“Normally, more women than men apply for the course. But, often the most renowned psychologists are male. For instance, in a class of 10 students, it is more likely that there would be only three boys. It could be due to lack of interest or because the seats fill up fast due to the popularity of the course and boys with 97 and below do not get a chance to even compete,” Rose said.
Ashwini Kumar, who earlier taught psychology at DU and is now an assistant professor at IGNOU’s School of Social Sciences, believes that boys who get 99 per cent or above in class 12 do not usually eye a career in psychology and prefer sciences.
“Boys with high marks usually opt for courses in science, math or computer science. Those who are inclined towards Arts and have other goals in mind such as cracking UPSC join political science, history or economics courses at DU,” Kumar said.
He added that it takes time and multiple degrees for an individual to establish themselves in the field of psychology and “sadly, our society does not allow that kind of bandwidth to most boys as they are expected to start earning as soon as they complete college”.