The more backward your school or college, the better your chances are at landing a seat in the prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University. “Deprivation points,” the university’s methodology of calculating merit is a system based on research that is conducted by JNU’s Centre for the Study of Law and Governance which in turn submits its report based on certain parameters like literacy rate of the district, agricultural productivity and other similar factors.

“We have a merit system that is applied if the candidates qualify for admissions. Five marks are reserved in the deprivation points system and another five for gender and such. In the deprivation point system, the most deprived areas are usually quartile one and the next level is quartile two,” said JNU spokesperson Poonam Kudesia, adding that the deprivation points were awarded on a scale of one to five based on the backwardness of the schools that the student has studied in.

“If a child has his or her roots in Anantapur and has studied in Delhi, then it won’t qualify him or her to be included in the quartile reserved for Anantapur but as belonging to an urban area,” she explained.

The Centre also regularly upgrades its research and the quartiles are changed accordingly. “Even the gender points are adjusted according to the research.”

This year the university received around 1,16,000 applications out of which only around 17,000 students made the cut. “All of our courses, except the part-time certificate courses, have entrance exams. Out of these 118 courses, 20 of our M.A. courses have direct admissions which means there are no interviews after a student passes the entrance exams,” added Ms. Kudesia.

These exams are conducted all over the country and foreign nationals have a different methodology of applying. However, if they are in the country at the time of the entrances, then they are also obligated to take the exams. “If their passports show that they were in the country and did not take the test then they are liable to be disqualified.”

Over-admissions and several cut-off lists, a regular feature in Delhi University are avoided altogether in JNU. “We don’t have second cut-offs, each school usually makes an offer. They have to calculate withdrawals and give a slightly higher offer than their total intake capacity,” she added.

Around 92 per cent of the applications this year were online and about 45,000 applications were from those who fell under the below poverty line status. The university’s most popular course this year is the Master of Computer Applications which has overridden the M.A. in International Relations, which was the most popular for several years. However, the best part is the option of deferring admissions. “If a student makes it to the entrance this year, but cannot join for whatever reason, we can reserve his or her seat for the next year,” said the spokesperson.

The university has under-graduate courses only for the foreign languages, all of which are taught at the School of Languages.