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Explained: Why DU has drawn flak for its decision to allot supernumerary seats

What is the row over Delhi University's decision to add five supernumerary seats per college for undergraduate admissions in the current academic year?

Written by Aranya Shankar , Edited by Explained Desk | New Delhi | Updated: December 27, 2020 11:55:47 am
Outside the Delhi University vice-chancellor's office. (Express Photo: Praveen Khanna, File)

Delhi University’s (DU) decision to add five supernumerary seats per college for undergraduate admissions in the current academic year has drawn flak from various quarters for introducing unofficial “management quota” and allowing “back door entry”. Teachers and students from the Left to the Right have come out to demand the notification be withdrawn.

What exactly does DU’s notification say?

Dated December 21 and signed by the Registrar, the notification essentially says college principals will be allowed to admit five students over and above the allotted seats, and that the university “may” suggest two of these names. Students admitted on these ‘college-university seats’ would get a relaxation of up to 10 per cent in the cut-off. DU said the move was being done in light of the Covid-19 pandemic since many students couldn’t complete the process on time. Officials told The Indian Express it was also a way to grant admission to children of ad hoc teachers and contractual staff who are not eligible for the ward quota.

Are there other such supernumerary seats in DU?

Over the years, DU has added several categories of supernumerary seats to the already increasing seat tally. Along with the reserved categories, DU also had five per cent quota per course per college for each of the categories of PWD (persons with disability), Kashmiri migrants and children/widow of Armed Force personnel. Additionally, 1-5 per cent of the total seats of a college are also reserved for ECA (extra-curricular activity) plus sports quota students.

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Do five additional seats matter? What is the controversy about?

Amid criticism, senior officials have pointed out that much hullabaloo is being made out of the move. “It is just five seats for the whole college and the relaxation in cut-off is also not significant. If we were saying give admission to somebody with a best of four of 50 per cent when the cut-off is 90 per cent, it would have been understandable,” an official said. But teachers argue even a small increase in numbers adds to the already burdened infrastructure.

The point of legality has also been raised. Four Academic Council (AC) members wrote to the Acting VC saying that “any decision related to admissions has to be compulsorily deliberated upon and ratified” by the AC. “The issue is also that they are doing this citing Covid, but the connection is completely vague. Why did they not waive the fees for students who were financially affected by the pandemic then? There seems to be some vested interest,” said former EC member Abha Dev Habib.

Who will get admission on these seats?

Another major point of criticism has been that there is no laid down criteria for selection to these seats. The only point the notification makes is that those students who had registered on DU’s portal and filled the application form will be eligible. However, among hundreds of students, who gains admissions is left to the discretion of the principals, an official told The Indian Express.

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