Admission Season

No ECA Trials for 2020-21 Session: A Severe Blow to DU Aspirants

In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, the University of Delhi (DU) has halted trials for Extra-Curricular Activities (ECA) quota admissions for Undergraduate courses for the academic session 2020-21.

Most colleges in DU reserve 5% extra seats in each course under both Sports and ECA categories collectively. This helps students who are proficient in any of the university’s prescribed sports or extra-curricular activities to seek admission after a competitive process.

The university recognizes 14 activities under the ECA category which consist of dance, debate, creative writing, music, theatre, NCC, and NSS- among others. Under the ECA category, applicants are shortlisted based on the merit certificates that they have received in the last three years. They are then called for centralized trials at various venues.

This year, however, the admissions department of the varsity is considering skipping the trials (with the exception of the National Service Scheme (NSS) and National Cadet Corps trials (NCC)), due to the social distancing norms. This is being done to regulate the spread of Covid-19.

Shobha Bagai, the Admission Department Head of DU, said, ‘It’s a huge risk to call candidates to the campus for sports and ECA trials this year. Also, it will not be possible for students to travel from different states to appear for the trials. So, we are considering if admissions can be given based on certificates issued by authorized sports bodies. In the case of ECA, there is no such system, and students sometimes submit certificates issued by residents’ welfare associations (RWAs) or local bodies. It becomes difficult to ascertain the authenticity of such certificates since we do not have any list of recognized bodies for ECA, unlike sports. Therefore, we have to see if- for a year- we can forgo admissions under ECA,”

This has created huge apprehensions for Delhi University aspirants, who sought ECA trials as a viable or backup option in the face of rocketing cut-offs every year. Various students opined on this step in a conversation with DU Beat.

Molina Singh from DPS Rohini said, “I was going to apply for two categories: Debate and Creative Writing. During the last two years of my school life, I had worked intensely towards going to competitions and honing these skills so that I could apply through the ECA criteria. While I knew that I had to study hard for the exams, having ECA was always an option to fall back upon given how unpredictable and ambiguous exam results are. But now, with the sudden changes due to the pandemic and all the confusion, ECA became even more necessary. Not having this option really worries me about my college prospects and whether I’d be able to secure a seat.”

Hiya Chowdhury, a student of Springdales, Pusa Road said, “I just finished registration today, and I am super disappointed. I was going to choose from Creative Writing, English Debate, and Western Vocal Music. In the DU registration form, if you select Yes for ECA application, they give only two options: NSS and NCC. It’s such a reductive step.”

Aadhya Abbhi, a student of Somerville Noida told DU Beat, “I’m a student of class XII, currently awaiting my class 12th board result. A few days ago, the much-awaited DU forms were released. Being a trained Bharatnatyam dancer for 8+ years, I was anxiously waiting to fill in for the ECA quota; it was my ‘sole backup’ which we are supposed to have as board results can be extremely dicey. I excitedly opened the Delhi University website, clicked on the admission portal, had all my certificates ready and read the guidelines, and got shocking news: ‘ECA quota has been scrapped and no trials will be held.’ I didn’t know what exactly to say or think at that very moment. For many children, the ECA might be the only way to get into the highly prestigious Delhi University. Not everyone is extremely good solely at studies to meet the sky-high cut-offs of the top DU colleges.”

She continued, “There are many out there who are extraordinarily talented in some form of dance/art and believe that it can fetch them a good college, but unfortunately this year they have been deprived of the very opportunity to showcase their talent in order to brighten their future. A lot of my friends who were planning to apply for ECA through music and dance are extremely disappointed and anxious as well, it’s a really difficult time for all of us. This year has already started off with difficulties and the entire system has turned topsy-turvy. Amidst the crisis, helping the apprehensive children with their admission would be one small step towards helpfulness and happiness. Hence, I request the concerned authorities to take up action against the newly given system and give the children the opportunity to get into their desired colleges through ECA.”

Nishtha Khunteta, a student of India International School, Jaipur said, “ECAs, to me, are like the one thing that makes DU admissions kind of holistic- as opposed to being entirely academic, which is a huge problem according to me.”

Alternate ways for admission under ECA category are being explored by the university’s admission department. “For some ECA disciplines, we can try to see if a candidate can upload a video of his/her performance to obtain the admission. All these are being considered,’ Shobha Bagai commented.

Let’s hope that the students are not harmed as a consequence of the pandemic, and alternative modes of trial conduction can be devised and notified to applicants. The Batch of 2020 is owed a smooth admission process and their chances of seeking admission should not be hampered.

Feature Image Credits: DU Beat Archives

Paridhi Puri