Board exam results, the experience with the previous year’s cut-off percentages and plenty of estimation and caution go into the preparation of first cut-off lists by Delhi University’s colleges which make it to the headlines every year because of soaring figures.
This year, the university’s admission process has broken all previous records with Lady Shri Ram College for Women setting 100% cut offs for three programmes, and a total of 30 programmes across all colleges have cut-offs of 99% or higher.
The key reason behind these cut-off figures is that around 5,500 registered candidates for admission to the university have a ‘best-of-four-subjects’ percentage of 100%.
Apart from St. Stephen’s College, cut-off percentages are the only filter through which DU colleges select candidates for programmes with merit-based admissions.
Manoj Sinha, principal of Aryabhatta College and president of Delhi University Principals’ Association, explained the standard checks that colleges employ to set their first cut-off lists.
Previous year’s cut-offs
“The first standard check is for colleges to look at their cut-offs from the last year. If I started admission for a subject with 95% in the first cut-off list, and closed it at 94.5% after subsequent cut-off lists, it means that I had done just what I need to know. If I started at 95%, and the cut-off eventually came down to 91%, that is something to consider,” he said.
For the university’s most sought after colleges—where the seats get filled by top scorers—the primary concern becomes to make sure that they do not end up admitting more students than they have the capacity for, which becomes ever harder with school boards grading candidates increasingly liberally. A prime case is that despite having the highest cut-off percentage last year with 99% for B.A. (Honours) Political Science, the college saw the admission of double the number of students than the seats that it had for the programme. Therefore, these colleges are cautious about using a stringent filter through extremely high-cut offs.
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Current year’s CBSE results
The other primary consideration is the current year’s board exam results.
“Even though we have to consider 22-23 different school education boards, the bulk of the input comes from the CBSE so we primarily look at what the results for its board exams are looking like in a year. If the mean percentage has gone up, I too will have to increase my cut-offs. And as in the case of this year, if there are over 5000 applicants with 100%, there is very little that the university administration or any college can do,” said principal Sinha.
Colleges hedge for uncertainty
Colleges have to employ plenty of calculated guesswork in formulating cut-offs because of the uncertainty of which course and college applicants will finally take admission.
Students do not apply to specific colleges. They apply through a general admission form which is applicable for admission to all Delhi University colleges, except St. Stephen’s College. Additionally, most students do not apply to any one course. They apply to multiple courses—some to all courses—to have options to weigh out when the cut-off lists come out.
As a result, colleges also cannot ascertain how many applicants will be opting for a given programme and have to rely on estimations based on the admission trends of the last few years, setting the highest cut-offs for the most popular programmes of recent years. Courses which are offered in very few colleges, such as B.A. (Honours) Psychology which is offered in 11 colleges, also tend to have very high cut-offs.
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