After nearly ten rounds of admissions for first year junior college seats that continued till mid-October including four special rounds to attract students to take admissions on vacant seats, several junior colleges in the city failed to attract students resulting in thousands of seats going vacant.
As the final round of the Centralised Admission Process (CAP) drew to a close recently, an analysis of the admission-related data has thrown up some shocking details. Of the total 97,435 seats available for admissions this year, 30,743 or nearly 1/3rd of the total seats have gone vacant.
This year, the number of divisions had gone up considerably with many new self-financed colleges being given approvals. As compared to 2017 when 92,530 seats were available for admissions, the number rose to above 97,000 seats this year, nearly 5,000 more than last year.
Admission experts are now questioning the need for giving approvals to new colleges and divisions. Last couple of years have seen fewer takers for the available seats, indicating that FYJC students might be increasingly inclined towards technical or diploma courses.
While 30,743 seats have gone vacant this year, the situation was not too positive last year as well when nearly 21,000 seats had gone vacant. However, the proportion of vacant seats has been increasing with each passing year.
Besides, the proportion of junior colleges that received zero admission (i.e. not a single seat was taken up by student in that college) is also quite high. This year, nearly 33 divisions could find no takers and almost equal number of divisions had only handful of students, making it unviable and uneconomical to run these batches.
Meenakshi Raut, in-charge deputy director of education, Pune region, whose office heads the CAP process, admitted that rising vacancies is a problem. “The total number of seats have increased because a lot of self financed divisions have come up. They can’t be stopped because the policy allows them… We try to help them by raising awareness and explaining processes to them, but it is a fact that most students prefer only a few colleges in city areas. Usually the proportion of vacancy is higher in rural and semi-urban pockets, which could be because of choice or lack of infrastructure or new institution,” she said.
Meanwhile, a contrasting situation can be seen in colleges with 100 per cent admissions. The number of such colleges stands at 160 this year, while it was 105 last year. With the final round of admissions already being concluded, neither CAP officials nor junior college authorities can hope for any improvement in the situation. In fact, CAP authorities are now in the process of drafting a report to the state government, highlighting the current year’s process and the problem of zero admission.
According to CAP authorities, rules state that if a particular aided division or course does not have any admission for two consecutive years, then it should be recommended for shutdown. Also, if an aided course gets admissions but goes below a minimum prescribed limit, such divisions are considered unviable.
However, such recommendations are sent only for aided divisions since salaries of teachers and grants come from the government. Asked if any similar recommendations are made for self-financed courses, where the real problem lies, Raut replied in negative. “In case of self financed or unaided divisions, it is for institutions to take a call whether to shut or not. Many institutions continue to run in hope that the situation will improve next year,” she said.