The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Fewer bag first-class marks
- Drop in count prompts scan on teaching standards in colleges

A sharp drop in first-class marks in Calcutta University’s undergraduate Part II examinations (under the 2+1 system) has brought under the scanner the academic standards of the colleges.

The drop, however, is also being seen as a measure of the success of the university’s attempts at quality control in education.

The results, announced on Monday, also reveal that there has been a decline, though marginal, in the overall pass percentage in all three streams — BA, B.Sc and B.Com.

The number of students securing first-class marks — 60 per cent or more — is indicative of the academic standard of a college.

“The drop in the number of students securing a first class is a matter of concern for the university,” said pro vice-chancellor (academic) Suranjan Das.

“We want our students to do well and are trying to find out what had led to the drop in the number of students with first-class marks. But one should also keep in mind that the university has taken a number of steps to ensure quality teaching. We are happy the measures have worked,” he added.

Compared with last year’s results, there has been a 10 per cent dip in the number of first- class students in B.Com. Against 3,348 students last year, only 2,329 have scored first class this time.

In B.Sc, the figure fell from 1,841 last year to 1,363.

In arts, there has been a “very marginal” increase — from 341 to 344 — but the university authorities are not happy, as the count of first classes has gone down in all subjects except in a few, including history and sociology.

A preliminary inquiry has attributed the fall in first-class marks to the growing tendency among students to depend on private tuition and selective study.

“The undergraduate examination system has undergone drastic changes over the past three years. In the new system, students will face problems if they tend to depend on private tuition,” said Das.

“The colleges have a responsibility to ensure that students adapt themselves to the changed pattern. We will start an inquiry to ascertain whether the colleges have done that,” he added.

While figuring out the reason for the shrink in the number of high-performers, the university will also take into account the fact that more meritorious students are now opting for engineering and other professional courses, and a large section of them is moving out to other states after Plus II for higher studies.

The overall pass percentages in BA, B.Sc and B.Com is also not encouraging, compared with last year. The pass percentage in BA has dropped from 89.06 to 87.40; in B.Sc, from 89.12 to 89.98; and in B.Com, from 86.13 to 95.14.

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