WITH ADMISSIONS to degree colleges on hold, confusion continues among aspirants seeking admissions to colleges under the University of Mumbai. With the new session already delayed by a week, and no resolution in sight, candidates, as well as colleges are beginning to panic.
What is the current status of admissions?
Admission to colleges affiliated to the University of Mumbai began on May 31. On June 19, the first merit list was announced. Students were admitted to colleges thereafter and a second merit list was expected on June 22. However, on June 21, the state education minister announced a stay on admissions to degree colleges across Maharashtra until further notice. Since then, neither has the university announced its merit lists, nor have colleges admitted any more students. Students, on the other hand, are left confused.
Why were admissions stayed?
This year, the university had changed its admission process and eliminated reservations for backward category students in accordance with a Bombay High Court order. The court had, in November 2017, ordered that minority colleges, which have a 50 per cent reservation for students belonging to a minority community, would not have reservations for SC/ ST and OBC category students. The order referred to a 2005 constitutional amendment that exempts minority institutions from reservations. According to Article 15 (5) of the Constitution of India, minority institutions under Article 30 shall be exempt from constitutional reservations — an amendment inserted by the then Congress government. So, this year, when the university issued a circular stating that minority colleges would not have any seat reserved for SC/ST/DT/NT/OBC students, student organisations protested and demanded reservations. Giving in to the pressure from student organisations, the government decided to move the Supreme Court against the Bombay High Court order.
What is the government planning to do?
The state government has filed a Special Leave Petition (SLP) in the Supreme Court challenging the Bombay High Court’s November ruling. The SLP is yet to come up for hearing. Meanwhile, admissions remain held up. A senior official from the higher and technical education department told The Indian Express that the SLP is likely to come up for hearing within a week and a decision would be taken thereafter.
How does the stay affect students and colleges?
Students are currently unclear about their admission status. Those who have already secured admissions are unclear whether or not their admissions would be valid when the admission process resumes. “If there is any change in the seats, the merit lists will change. At the moment there is no clarity,” said a candidate who has confirmed her admission in a suburban college after the first merit list. For those who haven’t been allotted seats yet, there is no clarity. “There are many students who apply from outside Maharashtra. They, along with their parents, camp in Mumbai until admissions are over. Right now, they don’t know what the future holds or how long the process would take,” said a principal of a college on the condition of anonymity. Ashok Wadia, principal of HR College, said: “Applicants are coming to us everyday seeking clarity on the situation. But the decision lies with the government so, we don’t have a definite answer for such students.” Meanwhile, the academic calendar is already delayed by a week. “While usually we start classes by June 25, the second merit list is yet to be announced. We don’t even know how long it will take to resolve the issue. The whole year will suffer and vacations will have to be cut,” said Hemlata Bagla, principal of KC College, where applicants have found a smart way around the uncertainty. “Students who studied in our junior college have all opted for the inhouse quota for BCom. All our B Com seats are full now,” she said.