Too many students and too few seats will be the story this academic session, with a huge jump in the number of Higher Secondary (HS) examinees coinciding with a diktat to colleges not to increase capacity.
The Calcutta University authorities have decided not to allow a single college to increase seats in the BA, B.Sc and B.Com courses, despite a record 4.37 lakh examinees appearing for HS 2006.
This marks an increase of 30,000 in the student count over HS 2005 ' which, in turn, had recorded a 15,000 rise over its previous year. Till last year, there was no official restriction on raising the number of college seats.
'We will be sending a circular to each of our affiliates, directing them not to admit a single student beyond their present capacity,' said Suranjan Das, pro vice-chancellor, (academic affairs).
The move, according to Das, is aimed at improving the academic quality in colleges.
'Say, a college has 50 seats at present in a particular department. We will not issue registration certificates to a single student beyond that. Such a move is essential to ensure quality education by not putting additional pressure on the existing infrastructure,' explained Das.
This year, a little more than 100,000 BA, B.Sc and B.Com seats will be made available to around 2.30 lakh examinees expected to clear the HS examinations, according to sources in the state Higher Secondary Council.
The HS results will be announced 'before June 10'.
Till last year, colleges would often succumb to 'local pressure' and raise seats and the university allowed this with an eye on student interest. 'But this time, we are not going to accept such appeals,' said Das.
The university order apart, principals of various middle-ranking colleges, like Asutosh, Shyamaprasad, Surendranath, Jaipuria, Manindra and City have decided not to increase seats because of an 'acute shortage' of teachers.
'Various departments of almost every college have reached the optimum level in student intake capacity. We will not be able to increase a single seat in any of the subjects this time,' said Kalachand Saha, general secretary of the West Bengal Council of College Principals.
In a meeting of principals held recently in the council, it was decided that the colleges would 'not bow to any kind of pressure from students or from local residents' over admitting more candidates.
'The number of students and also the number of courses have increased, but not the number of permanent teachers. It is no longer possible to increase a single seat with such teaching staff,' said a principal.
Gyanankur Goswami, principal of Shyamaprasad College and president of the principals' council, however, blamed the crisis in Calcutta colleges on the influx from the districts, 'where colleges have several empty seats'.