The commitment of Delhi University to diversity is what sets it apart from all the other public universities in India. The Delhi University has served as a socio-cultural hub for decades now. Along with the diversity of ethnicity, regionality, and religious inclusiveness, one also gets to witness diversity in thoughts, ambitions, and skills.
The Extra-Curricular Activities (ECA) quota has been one of the hallmarks of this University. This quota allows the students with exceptional skills in dancing, music, drama, debate, to seek admission into the most prestigious colleges of the University.
In each course, the colleges have to reserve 5% of their seats for the combined quotas of ECA and sports. Those students who are selected in the trials receive a 15% relaxation in the cut-offs of the colleges.
This year, unfortunately, Delhi University has decided to do away with the ECA quota admissions because of the coronavirus outbreak. Only those students who are applying through the sports quota, or the National Cadet Corps (NCC) and the National Service Scheme (NSS) are exempted.
The trials for these quotas also stand canceled but students can avail admissions to these quotas by uploading their certificates on the admission portal. The University has clarified that the certificates for these categories can be verified easily and therefore the credential for each certificate can be assessed without conducting actual trials.
The University also said that they are not challenging the reliability of certificates of sporting, NSS, or NCC. They concede that verifying the certificates of the ECA students in difficult because there are various competitions, each with different reliability.
In the process of selection, the certificates are not of prime importance. They are generally used for sorting out the weak or frivolous applications. For admissions under the ECA quota, the real test has always been the trials.
It seems as if the administration of Delhi University is unwilling to explore the other options for conducting these trials. The trials could have been shifted online and could also have been conducted with reasonable social distancing.
These online trials have been ruled out by the University for the fear of glitches or lags. But the University has been persistent in its approach to conduct online examinations for the students of the final year for the past three months. The same medium will be used by the students to appear in the exams.
Therefore, in the above-mentioned context, the technical issues cannot be cited as a reason enough to deny seats to thousands of students. Platforms like Skype or Zoom can be used to conduct trials. These platforms are already being relied on online classes. These platforms offer recording facilities to ensure transparency also.
The genuine concerns of accessibility will be raised because of online trials. But the adoption of an alternative solution will help in not killing the entire process. Special measures can be taken by the University to increase inclusivity and access.
Those students who live in areas where there are restrictions on the internet, can upload their videos rather than appearing for live trials. Delays in uploading of videos can be understood and the University should take into account the individual requests.
Several world-class universities like Harvard and MIT have taken the cause of their students’ in these stressful times. They have gone as far as suing the US government over the new ICE guidelines which were issued that will require all the international students to vacate the country.
An archaic process of admissions which are based only on qualifying examination has been retained by the universities in India. The ECA quota brings along with it the offer of providing an admission process that is more inclusive in nature.
A more holistic admissions criteria have been adopted by the premier universities across the world. In these universities, the academic merit of a student is often weighed along with their social and professional efforts and extracurricular activities.
On the other hand, Delhi University is making its name for excessively high cut-offs, as high as 99%. A much-needed respite is offered by the ECA quota to those students who have excelled beyond the classroom. It is because of the inclusivity which the University offers, that such great artistic talent has emerged from Delhi University.
The talented students have been denied admission into one of the best universities of the country by the scrapping of the ECA quota. Also, Delhi University has lost an amazing bunch of artists because of this move taken by its administration.