Good intentions pave the path to DU

Admissions go online, website crashes and candidates lose faith — one hellish ride for the varsity


Jasleen Kaur | June 12, 2013

Delhi University (DU) has been in the news recently for all the wrong reasons. As if the controversy over the new four-year-undergraduate-programme (FYUP) was not enough, glitches with the online registration for admission in DU have left students with a bitter aftertaste in their dealing with the varsity.
Thousands of students seeking admission in the university through online admission process for the FYUP were not able to do so with any ease. The university website suffered a technical glitch on the very first day of the admission process, and the problem continued for a few days that followed.

According to various newspaper reports, some students claimed that the link for the admission was not available at all; others complained that due to some technical glitch the website did not even open on the first day of the admission process. Students said that their attempts to register themselves failed as website returned a message that the transaction number was incorrect and some faced difficulty in uploading their photograph. Without these, the forms were rejected automatically. With the online registration failing them, many candidates has to submit hard copies of the optical mark recognition (OMR) sheets.

The university started the online filling of forms last year. It was meant only for the students from the general category. But there were some glitches and students faced lot of trouble, especially with the payment gateway.

This year the university widened the reach and the online application process was opened for students from the category of SC/ST and physically challenged as well.

The university wanted students to apply through the internet instead of coming to the campus to buy printed forms. It aimed to promote the environment-friendly paperless process. It would have also helped aspirants from outside Delhi who need not travel just to apply.

But the glitches undid all efforts. It has especially affected out-station candidates who now have to rush to book tickets to Delhi.

The other problem with the online registration is that it has not been able to encourage the desired volume of response. Despite being less expensive than the in-person registration, only 5,500 candidates chose to use it on the day the admissions opened as against 18,000 last year.

With the first-day horror stories going viral, the numbers choosing the virtual route to apply plummeted. Some candidates did not want to risk a rejection or delay with online system and had chosen to submit forms in-person. So much for the publicizing blitzkrieg that the varsity undertook for the system!

DU administration had undertaken many measures to make the online system popular — the registration fee was slashed by 50 percent (of the in-person fee) for general category candidates and waived entirely for scheduled caste/tribe students and students with disabilities, for example — but it didn’t take off.

The OMR sheets for off-line submission are a simplified version of the earlier one, with students needing to just tick the course of choice. The option of choosing a college has also been done away with. So, if a student has applied for a particular course, he/she is considered to have applied to all the colleges offering the particular course.

Though most candidates would say that the online system is a welcome move, they remain skeptical of its smooth functioning. In the list of pros, the one on the tops is the ease of accessibility for those with internet connections. If one can fill and submit the form at any time of the day, sitting at home, there is nothing like it. But the varsity should have worked harder at making the online process failsafe. The website crashed because of the suddenness of an unprecedented number of hits. This is hiccough that doesn’t need research to be anticipated.

First impressions last long. Though the administration moved to repair the glitches, precious time had already been lost for many candidates. With deadlines and all, panic must have caused the faith in the online process to get eroded.

The purpose of introducing the online system was to reduce the candidates’ and the university’s burden of filing and sifting through (respectively) paper applications that eventually numbered in lakhs. It was aimed to help those with mobility issues and out-station students. But the capacity to handle the scale was never installed. Now, these very target groups are left in the lurch by the system that failed to inspire confidence.

For the last few years, the university has been experimenting a lot with the way it functions and admits students. It first introduced the semester system, then the four year programme, and now online admission.

There is nothing wrong in experimenting or changing the age-old system. But readiness is something that the varsity has to learn from scratch.



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