Delhi University has failed to fill undergraduate seats in nearly 60 colleges even after three usual rounds of seat allocations and two rounds of spot admissions, raising the spectre of a repeat of the large-scale vacancies seen last year.
Many faculty members blame the situation on the university’s “opaque and centralised” undergraduate admission regime, the Common Seats Allocation Systems (CSAS), which it adopted last year.
The CSAS forces applicants to spell out their course and college preferences before the Common University Entrance Test (CUET) results are out. It subsequently restricts the applicants’ freedom to change their choices after they learn their CUET scores and the situation regarding the availability of seats becomes clearer.
The university has not revealed the number of vacant seats so far. However, it has announced a special round of spot admissions next week.
Several faculty members said 30 to 40 per cent seats were vacant in the science and commerce streams at several DU colleges.
A DU notification on Thursday said the university would display the vacancies on Monday to enable the candidates to apply by Wednesday. The process will be over by Saturday.
DU is India’s largest university and attracts students from across the country. Over 5,000 of the nearly 70,000 undergraduate seats the university offers remained vacant last year after DU began admitting students on the basis of their CUET scores — rather than their board exam scores — and introduced the CSAS as well.
The CSAS allots a student a particular course at a particular college based on her CUET scores and the preferences she had spelt out beforehand.
If the student wants to change her preferences during subsequent rounds of the online CSAS, held to fill seats left vacant after the initial rounds, she can only go up and not down her preference list.
Say, the preferences a student had mentioned are, in descending order, economics hons, political science hons, history hons, home science hons and BA (non-hons).
If she has been allotted history and later wants to change her preference, she can only choose economics or political science — if seats are available in these subjects — but not home science or BA (non-hons) even if her marks are good enough to secure admission to these courses.
The spot admissions do offer students the option of going down the list of preferences too. But many applicants tend not to wait for the spot admissions and play it safe by grabbing seats at other, usually private, universities.
The DU admission process has been dragging for a month and a half now, with classes having started on August 16.
Till 2021, individual DU colleges set their own cut-offs for each subject, admitting students on the basis of their Class XII marks. So, the students had a complete picture of which courses they might be able to enrol in and at which college. After admission, they could change their college and course, subject to availability, without artificial restrictions.
Quota seat trauma
A sizeable proportion of the vacant seats at DU tend to be those reserved for the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and the Other Backward Classes.
Rajesh Jha, a faculty member at Rajdhani College, said the majority of these students — mostly from vernacular-medium schools in rural areas — do not just find the CUET (based on the CBSE syllabus) daunting but also lack guidance in navigating the CSAS maze.
“This online CSAS system is very opaque. It also denies a level playing field to rural students who are not so well-versed in understanding and operating the online CSAS,” Jha said. “The CUET is mostly taken by the students from English-medium schools.”
Delhi social welfare minister Raaj Kumar Anand has written to DU vice-chancellor Yogesh Singh requesting that the admission process be continued till all the reserved seats are filled.