Students from underprivileged communities, who completed Class XII in vocational streams, are at a disadvantage when applying to Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU) as the university does not follow community-based reservation for them.
Vocational stream students applying to TNAU are not eligible for the 7.5% horizontal reservation available for those who studied in government-run schools. This is in contrast to the Tamil Nadu Engineering Admissions (TNEA) in which vocational stream students are able to benefit from these reservation policies.
The TNAU reserves 5% of total seats in select courses in its constituent and affiliated colleges. The university was allowing vocational stream students only in its constituent colleges until recently. It was extended to privately-run affiliated colleges as well following a direction of the Madras High Court in a case filed by a student.
Around 180 seats are now available for the students from vocational streams. Those who studied subjects such as Agricultural Practices and Agricultural Science in Class XII can apply for the seats set aside under this category.
Teachers and activists, who have demanded TNAU to implement community-based reservation and the 7.5% quota argued, these reservation policies are applicable for both academic and vocational stream students.
Su. Moorthy, a school teacher and the father of the student who approached the Madras High Court in the case referred earlier, said the TNAU could not have a different approach when other institutions offering professional courses are applying these policies to students from academic and vocational streams.
For instance, for single window counselling admissions to all engineering colleges affiliated to Anna University, multiple rank lists are released for each reservation category like community-based, differently-abled, ex servicemen quota, and government school quota for students from both vocational and academic streams. The TNAU, on the other hand, releases such separate rank lists only for academic stream students.
‘Agri’ M. Madhavan, state president, Tamil Nadu Agricultural Graduate Teachers’ Association, alleged that the TNAU was providing scope for students from private schools to grab more seats by not applying reservation policies, particularly the 7.5 % quota for government school students.
Mr. Moorthy said even the High Court, in the case filed by his son, recommended extending the reservation to vocational stream students as well.
Responding to the concerns, a senior TNAU official said the university’s policies allowed one student to benefit from only one type of reservation policy. He said that the 5 % seats set aside for vocational stream students itself is a reservation of seats for them. “Therefore, they cannot benefit from other reservation quotas,” the official said on behalf of the university.
When pointed to the procedure followed in TNEA, the university said it was adhering to its own admission policy in place.
The university further argued vocational stream students had a marginally higher chance of getting admission than those from academic streams. It said that of the 1,493 vocational stream students who applied last year, 11.9 % got admitted. On the other hand, only 9.21 % of the 40,585 students from academic streams got seats.