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Apex court rule on quota seats has admission officials worried

Apex court rule on quota seats has admission officials worried
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First Published: Thu, Apr 10 2008. 11 09 PM IST

Updated: Thu, Apr 10 2008. 11 09 PM IST
New Delhi: The notice board of the Faculty of Management Studies (FMS) at Delhi University displays the names of candidates short-listed for seats reserved for scheduled castes. Another list displays those admitted under the scheduled tribes quota, and another lists the children of war widows.
The campus is deserted, as according to dean Joy Mitra, “the caterpillars have become butterflies”. Translation: students are off at jobs or internships.
But on the day the Supreme Court rules to reserve 27% seats for members of backward classes, the easygoing, grey-haired Mitra is scrambling to reach his colleague as he is responsible for planning. Will he need to put up yet another list?
It is the collective question on the minds of college officials, even as some legal experts warn that the judgement may not apply to postgraduate programmes.
Reservation issue: Recruiters at IIM-Ahmedabad. The Supreme Court ruling allowing extra seats comes right in the middle of admissions at FMS and the six IIMs, as well as elite colleges such as the IITs. (Photo: Madhu Kapparath/ Mint)
The ruling allowing extra seats comes right in the middle of admissions at FMS and the six Indian Institutes of Management, as well as elite colleges such as the Indian Institutes of Technology, which hold their joint entrance examination on Sunday.
The judgement can mean holding separate exams for other backward classes (OBC) candidates or deferment of admissions. The increase in seats also implies rapid increase in infrastructure for most colleges, and even a shift to a new campus by next year for IIT in Chennai.
If the judgment applies to FMS, the business school will have to increase seats by 54%, in a phased manner, starting from the new academic session which begins June. (The larger percentage stems from a deal that the new additions could not displace “mainstream” students so overall seats will also see increase.)
This could mean Mitra is just two months away from a logistics nightmare. Or not.
He frowns, still unsure: “We have to comply with the state laws. The question of not complying does not arise.”
“We can hold a separate entrance examination,” he mulls, while telling his staff once again to urgently get hold of the dean for planning.
FMS has just finished with a test, and interviews, for 130 seats offered for a full-time master’s in business administration. It reviewed 61,750 applications for these seats. Colleges of Delhi University, like other government-run universities in India, already have 22.5% seats for caste-based reservations for SCs/STs.
Colleges which have not yet disclosed the list of successful candidates on Thursday reacted by delaying decisions—just as they did last year during court proceedings. The six IIMs swiftly announced the delay after the ruling.
The new quota does not just affect admissions. It also means adding physical infrastructure to cope with the increase in students—tables and chairs, laboratory equipment, hostel facilities.
“Our classroom sizes are for 15 and 30. Now when this goes up by 54%, I will have to break down walls,” said Meera Ramachandran, principal of the all-women Gargi College. “(Delhi) University specifies certain size of laboratory. We are already using the labs till 4 o’clock. Let’s see if University Grants Commission allows us an extension of that time.”
The government, in last year’s budget, had increased an education cess on all taxpayers to pay for the expansion. The Rs2,698 crore in funds were to be used for the seat increase in institutes of higher learning, a move anticipated last year. Now the government has to concentrate on getting these funds to colleges.
“The money has not reached us. I don’t need it this year. But next year, without the money I cannot expand”, said M.S. Ananth, director of the IIT in Chennai, who plans to open a new campus next year in the same city to accommodate new students.
IIT-Chennai, which has 5,000 students on-campus will raise seats by 9% this year. Its seat capacity will increase by 18% next year, by 27% in 2010.
Human resource development minister Arjun Singh, who led the battle for the new quota, is confident the implementation will be a smooth one.
In an interview, he said, “In the central universities, I do not see any problem. It was settled earlier that it will be done in a phased manner”.
“The institutions will have to manage. If you want to increase fees you have to comply with the other factor of accommodating those who cannot pay.”
Santanu Chakraborty contributed to this story from Kolkata, Vidhya Sivaramakrishnan from Chennai and John Samuel Raja D. from New Delhi.
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First Published: Thu, Apr 10 2008. 11 09 PM IST
More Topics: Quota | Apex Court | Admission | Arjun Singh | FMS |