Campus Central

DU Admissions 2021: To Evaluate or Not to Evaluate on Merit?

With the cancellation of the CBSE 12th grade examinations students aspiring for DU are left in a dilemma regarding their admissions. Will it be based on school merit or any form of entrance exam? Read to find out more.


On Tuesday, 1st June 2021, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) declared the cancellation of 12th-grade examinations owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. In a high-level meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he instructed officials to ensure that the Class 12th results are prepared following “well-defined criteria, in a fair and time-bound manner”. 

This struck another debate in the student dogma. Students aspiring for the University of Delhi UG courses now are apprehensive about the respective admission criteria, creating a full-fledged discourse on whether school merit or any form of entrance is suitable for their admissions. Or would the Delhi University come up with an alternate mechanism?

Entrance Examination?

The University of Delhi is known for its high scaling cutoffs (the cutoffs of 2020 nearly fixed 100% for admission to multiple honors courses). Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and national lockdown, the whole education system was pushed to the online mode. This virtual education arena was marked by laxity in the assessments and the learning process was compromised to a certain degree.

Riya Jain a student from Euro International School, Gurugram, aspires to study in DU. While talking to her on the same issue she said, “If they’ll evaluate based on pre boards or previous years’ marks, nobody took them very seriously. We’ll not get the percentage we deserve. If I talk about myself, I want to go for English honors in Stephen’s or Hindu college and for that getting 98% without writing exams is not confirmed. I was fully prepared for board exams. Students aiming 80% will get 90% and the students aiming 100% might also get 90%. So according to me, there should be an entrance test so that deserving students can get admission.”

Another student aspiring to be a part of DU, Diksha Barua, from Army Public School Narangi, Guwahati Assam, endorsed this opinion. “I feel like having entrance-based admissions would be fair for all, since the marks that will be awarded to us by schools would be unreliable and wouldn’t reflect the real potential of a student.”

However, with the current situation of the pandemic and the possibility of a third wave, DU officials said it was unlikely that CUCET (Central Universities Common Entrance Test) would be implemented this year, and therefore, the CBSE criterion would be followed while declaring cut-offs. When asked if CUCET would be considered, DU’s Gupta told The Indian Express“We are committed to CUCET as and when it happens. The problem there too is that national-level examinations have to take place. Nobody is in a situation right now to answer how the situation will be in various cities and whether this exam can be held. This is the best possible option for the larger of interest students [to go by CBSE formula.”

Merit or a Demerit?

Recently the University of Delhi said it would follow the merit criterion for admission. DU Acting Vice-Chancellor P C Joshi said, “This decision has been taken because of the unprecedented Covid situation. We are with the Government of India. Our admission criteria will strictly be based on merit. We will honor the Board’s criterion.” While the plans for the DU entrance examinations remain on an official halt, many students like Riya and Diksha profess it as a fair means for them.

(Read Also: New Mode of DU Admissions to be Decided after Cancellation of Class 12th Board Exams)

In stark reality devising an entrance mechanism would be a very difficult task for the Delhi University given the unprecedented environment and the time constraint. Dr Shankar Kumar, an assistant professor from the Department of History, Hindu College, spoke to DU Beat. He stated, “As per my memory it is trending the in the news that the university has decided they would just go by the merit criteria of the respective boards. And it would be just like business as usual. Previously, DU had been toying with the idea of holding an entrance examination. But due to the extraordinary situation of the pandemic, the idea is off their sheets for now. But as a teacher, I would like to say that one moment, one exam to assess the ‘competence’ of a student is somewhat uncalled for.”

Many students feel that the decision to cancel the exams is an injustice to the students who have worked genuinely hard for the whole of the year and profess for internal merit-based assessment. Opposing the entrances, they pose questions such as how will the authorities define the syllabus in a short period and create a systematized pattern? Though most importantly the students fear that how will they study for the same.

Supporting the merit criteria, Vrinda Dudeja a student from St. Thomas’ Girls Sr. Sec. School, New Delhi, held, “According to me our admission should be merit-based because, firstly, most of us do not aim for exams like CLAT, DU JAT, SET etc. and therefore we do not take classes for the same and taking an entrance exam without taking classes is close to impossible because the syllabus we are taught in schools is nowhere near to the kind of topics that are required for entrance-based exams.”

“Secondly, doing well in board exams has been our only goal since class 11 and we have been preparing accordingly. Asking us to prepare for an entrance exam at this point will be wrong as most of us do not have the mental capacity to study something completely new after a year and a half of studying subjects of our likings. So, admissions should be based on marks for which we have worked hard the whole year rather than on the entrance,” added Vrinda while talking to DU Beat.

Is There Any Common Consensus?

The student community remains divided over the so-called “best admission criteria”. While being in a heated discourse over the admission process, one needs to be reminded of the uncanny circumstances surrounding us.

First and foremost I don’t have any merit from my 12th Grade because I ‘survived’ it in a pandemic. My whole year was in a pandemic that jeopardized my curricular and co-curricular activities. The so-called merit evaluation promised by the CBSE to us would be equivalent to the actual examination. Personally, the university should explore other options such as personality tests, rather than the rhetoric of merit or entrance.

Khushi Gupta, a student from Shimla

(Read Also: DU Suggests Including CUCET Grades in the Admission Procedure)

But is there any common consensus amongst the students? In a country like India, almost every student holds a similar belief: if they work hard in their boards, then their life would be better. But that didn’t happen with the 2020 twelfth graders. The real-time problems and issues the students had to encounter daily during the pandemic, including mental trauma, are being untouched by the authorities. Now the student community lives in a fear that all their hard work, determination and dedication and commitment during the pandemic would lead them to absolute vain.

Feature Image Credits: Clipart Library

Nirmanyu Chouhan

[email protected] 

Author