Protestors demand external supervisory board to look into alleged irregularities in the process

Complaints about irregularities in college admissions are nothing new and it is not just students and parents who have been seeking reasons for rejection of applications, but concerned outsiders, too.

Members of the Federation of Catholic Faithful staged a protest on Monday, demanding an external supervisory board that would look into admissions of Catholic-run educational institutions. They alleged that many run by the Catholic fraternity, including Loyola College, were no longer favouring economically weaker students from their own community, but were “selling the seats to those who can afford high prices.”

“Seats from even the 50 per cent that need to be reserved for students from the community are being sold. There is no transparency in the admission processes. The poor students of the community are being left out, particularly in Loyola College, which has defeated the whole purpose of Christian minority institutions,” said A. Clement Selvaraj, general secretary of the organisation.

Members of the organisation said that many of the colleges did not follow the mandatory procedures listed in the G.O. issued by the Department of Higher Education on May 23 to be followed by Government/Government Aided/Unaided colleges of Arts and Science in Tamil Nadu.

The G.O mandates that every selection list, besides containing the number of seats sanctioned for the course, must also provide information on the number of seats already filled up, vacancies and particulars of candidates chosen under each category, with names placed in the descending order of marks. The order demands that the colleges have a transparent fee structure and implement the rules of reservation strictly.

“The admission process for aided and unaided courses is going on simultaneously in many institutions even though the order says the former has to be completed first. In most colleges, lists of aided courses and autonomous courses are released together and there is no mention of waiting lists,” Mr. Selvaraj added.

A professor working with Loyola College said most admissions are decided by a group of professors and the software for sorting lists of students rank-wise and community-wise lies unused.

Students say it is frustrating as the cut-off marks are unclear and the reason for not getting admission is not made known. “My classmate from school who belongs to my community (MBC) got into WCC. She has the same marks I do. They said she applied first and therefore got in, but it can’t be true, as I applied the same afternoon that I got my results,” said an applicant with marks of 1058/1200.

Parents assembled at WCC said only three of the promised six lists were made available to them. “The problem is that there is no response. We don’t know if we have to wait for the supposed waiting lists.”

Officials from these colleges were unavailable for comment. A senior professor from Ethiraj College for Women attributed the problem to the increasing number of applications, almost 30 per cent, while the number of seats remained stagnant. “There are plenty of reasons for admitting a student. We try hard getting them into some course, but many just want a particular course.”

Recommendation letters are no longer an added advantage, but a ‘must’ in most colleges. “I have one from a bureaucrat, but that does not work,” said a student with a total of 1056 at WCC. A student who applied for physics with 1045 marks who falls under the MBC category says, “I did not get through WCC, Ethiraj or Stella. One offered B.A. (Corporate). I am not even sure what the future the course has,” said a student.

Department of Higher Education officials said the Directorate of Collegiate Education will soon look into these irregularities. Parents and students, however, have a long wait ahead. “If there was single window counselling at the University of Madras, it will do much good,” said a mother from Ambattur who has been accompanying her daughter to WCC everyday for almost three weeks now.

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