As undergraduate (UG) admission processes have begun for the academic year 2021-22, universities are now staring at a problem of plenty. Since board exams were cancelled due to Covid-19 and students were evaluated based on alternative marking schemes, the pass percentages have inflated across boards. The high pass percentage means that more students will be joining UG courses this year.
In CBSE Class 12, the pass percentage this year is 99.37 per cent, up from 88.78 in 2020. A total of 70,004 students have achieved 95 per cent and above marks, and 1,50,152 in the 90-95 per cent range. In UP board class 12 result, 97.88 per cent of students were declared pass, which is a significant increase from 74.64 per cent last year. Haryana, the pass percentage is 100. For almost all state boards, the pattern is similar with more students clearing Class 12 exams with higher marks.
The University of Lucknow will be conducting entrance-based admission for all UG courses this year. Professor Amita Bajpai from the varsity’s department of education told indianexpress.com, “this year, universities do not know students’ real potential as no uniform method was adopted across boards and it is going to have a long-term impact. More students have got high marks and it will only make UG admission tougher. We are conducting entrance exams for all UG admission to make sure that deserving candidates are getting a fair chance.”
The university has no plans of increasing the number of seats this year. The decision to conduct entrances was taken before the board results were announced since it was evident that the learning throughout the year was impacted amid Covid, said Bajpai.
Vacant seats to be a concern
Universities in West Bengal were asked not to conduct entrance tests at the UG level due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Hence, Jadavpur University will be going ahead with merit-based admissions this year. Rimi Barnali Chatterjee, professor, department of English, Jadavpur University, said, “we have been forbidden to hold entrance exams this year and admissions are going to be a disaster. Students who have got high marks will get admission everywhere they apply, which will leave behind vacant seats. These seats will again have to be filled by following the due processes, which will only create a tedious cycle for university/college authorities and delay the academic session.”
She added that the faculty are hoping that a readjustment mechanism will be out in place so that students will have the chance to switch courses after a year or so if they find themselves in the wrong place. “The number of high scorers has increased this year but universities have no provisions to increase seats. Admissions this year are going to be more chaotic than the board exams situation. We are not sure of the quality of students coming through merit-based criteria,” she said.
More competition will lead to focus on private varsities
Since there will be greater competition for securing a seat in UG courses, students are likely to turn to private universities. Along with the merit list, most private universities have their own admission processes. For example, Amity University Punjab will hold an entrance test, which will have specific sections of questions on general knowledge and field-specific concepts. But, those who have secured less than 75 per cent marks in class 12 will not be allowed to appear.
RK Kohli, vice-chancellor, Amity University (Mohali), told indianexpress.com that the university is offering generous scholarships to attract the best talents. “Students who have got 95 per cent and above in class 12 board exams will get direct admission and a full waiver on the fee. Since seats in government institutions are limited, they may not be able to accommodate all the students as the number of high scorers has increased this year. In this case, students will try to get admission in reputed private universities,” he said.
This year, the Rajasthan Board of Secondary Education (RBSE) has recorded a 99.97 per cent overall pass. The science stream pass percentage is 99.48 per cent (91.96 per cent in 2020), arts 99.19 per cent (90.70 per cent in 2020) and Commerce pass percentage is 99.73 per cent as compared to 94.95 per cent in 2020. The University of Rajasthan is also mulling over various decisions about the admission process. The varsity began the registration process on August 9.
KM Duriya, registrar, University of Rajasthan, said that this year’s class 12 result would impact the admissions but there was no other way out to keep up with the academic cycle. “We have created a central admission board, which is closely monitoring the ratio of the number of applications that we are receiving and available seats. Once the committee submits its report, we may look into increasing the seats but as of now there is no such plan,” he said.
Universities expecting more, better than usual applicants
Along with the challenges, universities are also hoping for a silver lining amid the admission chaos. Bangalore’s RV University, which is commencing its first academic session this year, claims to have received an application from a candidate with 100 per cent marks in class 12. Vice-chancellor of the university, YSR Murthy, told indianexpress.com that the registration process has already begun and the response is quite positive despite Covid. The varsity has received 420 registration so far and is hoping to receive around 1200 applications for 400 seats across various courses.
“We are receiving applications from across the country and not just Karnataka. There has been a rise in the number of female applicants, which is a positive change from previous years’ trends in higher education. Since more students have passed this year, we are hoping to receive more applications than the earlier expectations. Percentages are only one parameter, we judge students based on their statements of purpose (SOPs), portfolio, ECA achievements. Many student entrepreneurs have also applied to join this year,” he said.
The university is also offering scholarships to attract the best talents, Murthy said. Students who have scored 95 per cent and above will get a 100 per cent tuition-fee waiver. Besides, those who have been impacted by Covid and have lost one or both parents will also get full scholarships to pursue any programme at the varsity.