“UG Admissions Closed,” says the notice board clearly in at least two places outside the principal's office in Loyola College, Chennai.
Yet, over a hundred anxious parents, along with their sons and daughters, wait for hours to meet Fr. B. Jeyaraj, the principal, with recommendation letters, to somehow persuade him to give a seat.
As always, the demand for commerce is the highest. For the 500-odd seats in B.Com. in the college, there were over 6,000 applications. “We have sought additional seats for commerce this year,” he says. Reputed as one of the country's top colleges in teaching commerce, the Loyola School of Business Studies will function from this year to give the students a separate identity.
The cut-off for commerce is 98+ for open category, 95+ for backward classes, 93+ for most backward classes and 88+ for scheduled castes in a couple of city's elite colleges.
At M.O.P. Vaishnav College, the cut-off in commerce under open quota is as high as 99.5. Eight students with a full 800 marks in the four subjects and four with 799 out of 800 had applied. “Parents are annoyed with me asking how a student with a 95 per cent can't get a seat. It has been really difficult explaining the parents,” says Nirmala Prasad, college principal. Apart from commerce, media sciences and mathematics are gaining popularity in city's top colleges.
In Ethiraj College, the commerce cut-off is 789 under the aided stream where admissions to science subjects are far more flexible as the applicants are fewer. “At present, a student with 85 per cent is admitted but this can be relaxed with time,” says Shyamala Kanakarajan, vice-principal, Ethiraj College for Women.
“When we receive hundreds of applicants who have scored extremely well, it is difficult screening them. After following all the reservations for various communities stipulated by the government we are left with no choice but to eliminate students from forward communities who have scored well,” she adds.
New engineering colleges are opened every year but there are very few established arts colleges offering commerce and science courses. The reason for the huge cut-off in commerce is that students have limited options unlike science students who can opt for engineering, medicine, agriculture, paramedical, or join in any of the science subjects.
Even in government colleges, the cut-off for the commerce stream is higher than in other streams. Presidency College, for instance, has received more than 3,000 applications for 80 seats. “From the two counselling sessions that have concluded the seats in commerce have almost filled up for which the cut-off is around 700 marks in the four major subjects,” says Abdul Raheem, associate professor, Presidency College.
But the cut-off marks for the science stream show a wide variation among the various communities. The cut-off for the Scheduled Castes is the highest as we receive the largest number of applications from them, as they are given many scholarships and concessions,” says Mr. Raheem.
The maths department has the highest demand followed by Physics, Chemistry and Biology. “At present, the cut-off for B.Sc Maths stream in the SC category is around 600 marks which is likely to reduce after engineering counselling as students are likely to opt out,” he says.
Unlike in Delhi University where the admission is a centralised process, the colleges affiliated to the University of Madras have their own admissions based on the State's reservation policy. “It is the hard work that pays more than the intelligence to score high in school finals. Some kind of competitive examination could bring about a balance,” says Ms. Nirmala Prasad.