The decision by Calcutta University (CU) to make it mandatory for Class XII students to clear at least five subjects to be eligible for admission to its undergraduate courses has jeopardised the future of many.
Students of the Council for Indian School Certificate Examinations are required to pass in four subjects to clear the ISC examination. They study six subjects at the Plus-II level.
This year, CU has directed the authorities of the 140-odd colleges under its jurisdiction not to admit ISC students to BA, B.Sc and B.Com courses unless they had passed in at least five subjects.
As a result, hundreds of ISC students have been denied admission to colleges.
Many of them have opted to drop a year and clear the fifth subject in next year's ISC, before applying for admission to the CU undergraduate courses. Those not willing to lose a year have shifted to other states to study in universities where it is not mandatory to clear five subjects in the school-leaving examination.
'We were forced to change the eligibility criteria for students, in view of the recent decision to split the BA, B.Sc and B.Com courses into three parts,' stated CU pro vice-chancellor (academic affairs) Suranjan Das.
'I never knew that I would not be allowed to study B.Com in CU if I did not clear five subjects in the ISC. Had I been aware of the rule, I would have concentrated more on passing the fifth subject this year itself,' complained Amit Agarwal (name changed), a student of St Jude's School, in Dum Dum.
More students like Amit were caught unawares. Till last year, CU had allowed ISC candidates who had cleared only four subjects to take admission in colleges.
The students were given the opportunity to clear the fifth subject in the subsequent year's ISC.
'The university should have announced its decision well in advance,' asserted Romi Singh (name changed), a student of Dasnagar St Thomas School, in Howrah. 'Now that no college in Calcutta is allowing me to take admission, I have applied at a college in Punjab where there is no such restriction.'
Worried at the development, the ISC council top brass has directed the 280-plus schools affiliated to it in the city to inform their students in advance about the need to pass in at least five subjects to pursue a graduation degree.
'Unlike in the other states, passing in five subjects is compulsory for studying the general degree courses in West Bengal. The board has directed the authorities of each school to impress upon the students that they should not aim to clear only four subjects in the ISC. It is important to clear the fifth subject as well to enrol in colleges in the state,' said Gillian Rosemary Hart, principal, Welland Gouldsmith School. She is also a member of the Council's executive committee.
According to sources in the Council, old and reputed schools guide ISC candidates in such a way that all of them are able to clear at least five subjects.
'It is the students of the schools that have been set up recently who suffer. In an attempt to register a higher pass percentage, the teachers of these schools do not encourage the students to do well in all the subjects,' explained a Council official.