Delhi University (DU) will start classes for first-year students irrespective of whether all rounds of allotment of seats to candidates through its new admission process have been completed, the DU vice-chancellor said, Yogesh Singh. The Indian Express in an interview this Tuesday. He talked about the details of the admission procedure and schedule, the huge task at the university and the confusion that CUET was in. Edited snippets:
Q: Why DU has not issued proper admission schedule this year? You have just opened the admission portal.
The first is that the result (CUET) is not declared. Now, NTA (National Testing Agency) has announced that the results will be declared on September 15. Let’s say they don’t declare it, then things will change. So right now everything depends on the NTA result (declaration)… If they announce the result on 15th, we will prepare our calendar accordingly, but 3rd October is the last date for registration. Once the registration process is completed, we will make a calendar to also know the exact number of applicants for admissions.
Until the results are out, students are also confused because we have to give them time to indicate their preferences (programme and university). It is the first time (we are conducting admissions through CUET), there are so many combinations and so many things to do that students may feel worried. Then we’ll open in the middle innings… This is a new system, it will take time and our team is working hard, you know, things are very new for them too. It will take time to stabilize.
Q: When will you open the mid-entry window? Will there be only one chance for this?
We will conduct the middle entry after the second round of allotment (of seats). Yes, there will only be one opportunity for this, but if we feel that many requests are coming in, we may open again. This is not a big problem. We have a rule, merit must not be compromised. Thus, even if we open mid-entry, admission will be based on merit. Q: This system demands a lot from students in terms of knowing what the best preferences might be for them. So do you think some kind of counseling is needed for them?
Yes, we are planning open days, we are planning workshops and we also plan to have an adequate number of student help desks. And we are also guiding our colleges to also constitute a group of teachers to help the students. They will receive maximum inquiries and should entertain it.
Q: Why have you kept such a long period of 21 days for registrations?
Because we are not sure about the result declaration date. Let’s say they declare the result on 15th, then at least we should have 5 days to get the data (from NTA) and the result. Then we would process it on our end as well.
Q: Will DU prepare a merit list this year instead of cut-off lists prepared earlier by colleges?
We can prepare merit list only when raw marks are from NTA.
Q: But will DU prepare centralized merit lists for all programs?
Yes, we will. We have grouped programs that have the same eligibility criteria (in terms of required CUET scores). Programs that require a CUET score of subjects in the same domain may have a common merit list.
Q: By the same eligibility do you mean DU programs for which the subjects in the CUET domain are the same?
Yes. Then we can have a common merit. So a program that needs a CUET score, for example, Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics, and another that needs Physics, Chemistry and Biology, will have two different merit lists as their eligibility subjects are not the same.
Q: So the universities are basically not involved in this? DU will prepare the merit list, publish it and even help colleges with allotment.
We will assign seats, not help. After that students will go to the respective colleges, check their documents, deposit fee and only then the seat will be confirmed. Allocations will be made using an algorithm based on the university and program preferences indicated by the applicant.
Q: Would this centralized process become too unwieldy for the university to handle because the previous colleges took over after students finished matriculating? Colleges basically published their cut off lists.
We could have done it that way too, but then it would be difficult for the students: they have to run from one university to another. Now, on the portal they will have their seat assigned according to their aspirations and choices. Then they only need to go to the designated university to confirm their place. If they are not interested, they will fill the upgrade option and wait for the next round of counselling.
Q: Realistically, how many rounds of adjudication do you think it will take?
Four at least for sure. But if we feel there is a need and there are a lot of vacancies, it is also a 5-6 round option. But right now we can’t say… It’s the first time, although we don’t know how many vacancies there will be. This will also depend on NEET and JEE admission. Students from here also commute there (medical and engineering faculties). But in any case, our fundamental principle is that merit should not be compromised.
Q: What is the biggest challenge you face in rolling out the new admissions process this time?
The biggest challenge is the selection of students’ preferences (university and program). If they do it very carefully and seriously they would do very well and they should select all possible options. If they take it casually, sit down and fill it with their friends, fill in 4-6 options and leave, it will be very problematic for them. This can lead to chaos once the seats are allotted.
Q: This year, you said, that DU will admit 20% ‘additional students’ in unreserved and OBC categories and 30% in SC/ST category. DU has an over-admission problem. Won’t this step make the problem worse?
Let’s say there are 100 seats in the unreserved category in Physics Honors at Casa Miranda. We are saying that we will admit 120 students to ensure that there are no vacant places due to subsequent withdrawals. So we will not give vacancy for the second round of this program. Until there are 20 empty places we will not give places.
Q: But over-admission is a problem…
This happened even earlier. We are only saying 20 places. But vacancies are created. This is the fundamental principle of counseling. The vacancy will always come and more in better schools. Q: You also have a very detailed tiebreaker for admissions. Do you foresee many ties occurring?
Look, we have to do it through an algorithm and we have to give all the data… We don’t do it manually, that’s why.
Q: For the past 2 years, the academic calendar has been completely out of sync. Do you think this can be fixed next year?
Next year we will be on time because there will be no summer holidays for first year students.
Q: When do you think the CUET should be taken next year in order to start the session on time?
There should be two exams – one two weeks before the CBSE exams and one just after the CBSE exams.
Q: Coming to the CUET exam format, where a VC has already said that he is not satisfied with the MCQ format….
I am very happy with everything. Q: Does the MCQ format work well according to you?
work for me It works very well. It removes subjectivity, but if we can think of a better system, we’re willing to accept that too. As of today, this is the best system.
Q: Following the recent High Court decision which ordered the St. Stephen’s College to compulsorily admit students based on CUET performance only, has there been any communication between Stephen’s and DU?
There has been no communication… The recent decision is only about 50% of the non-minority seats. I think they should not go to the high court. We are thinking of putting a warning in the Supreme Court. If we think they will just go, otherwise we don’t want any hassle either. We want to cool the system.
But if necessary we will also tell the court to hear our side also before giving the sentence. If the high court upholds the order, there will be chaos in the system again. Everything will be delayed. If they go to court and the court (higher court) stays, then it will be problematic. But I don’t think they will…
Q: Do you think the number of subject options offered in CUET should be reduced because there are over 50,000 combinations?
Then it will limit the opportunities for our students. Right now, we have the technology to help and support them. We’re going to see. We will analyze after the entire admission process, once the admission process is over. We will find the weak areas and rebuild the whole system.
Q: At first glance, what do you think went wrong with CUET this year?
Technological failures. In some places the technicians were also not aware… And the centers were casual… This is the biggest exam in the world. You see the length and breadth of everything. Also in so many languages. But we have to appreciate that. See also NTA, after all, they are also human like us. They are not superhuman. I appreciate your efforts, even with so many difficulties, but this is inevitable for the first time.
Q: What is happening with graduate admissions? They are quite retarded.
Most likely, the entrance test will start on September 26.
Q: And will DU also join CUET for PG programs from next year?
It’s on the cards but we’re not quite sure yet.
Q Why didn’t DU join CUET PG this year?
Because we were very busy with the degree. We haven’t found time to think about PG. We were busy with admissions, the implementation of the NEP (National Education Policy), with the formulation of the curriculum. It did not become a priority issue.
Q: What is the status of B.Tech. programs that DU had to introduce this year?
Our file is with the Ministry of Finance right now… If we get approval from the Ministry of Finance, we can also start in a month or two. It can start in January, the first year will be late, that’s all. We don’t rule it out for this year, but we won’t start anything without the go-ahead.