With admissions to various undergraduate courses at Delhi University starting on Monday, principals believe that the closure of hostels may prove a hurdle for students seeking admissions and may affect the admission numbers this year.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the university is currently conducting online classes and its hostels are shut. Although the new academic session is slated to start on November 18, colleges are not hopeful of physical classes resuming anytime soon.
Babli Moitra Saraf, principal of Indraprastha College for women, which can accommodate around 450 students at its hostel, said, “Since hostels are still closed, we are expecting a lower number of outstation admissions than last year as families may not be keen on girl students coming to Delhi during a pandemic and opting for other accommodations. Besides, travelling during a pandemic will also be difficult. We can open hostels only when there are orders (from the government), and when offline classes are permitted.”
Many applicants, especially girl students, often rely on college hostel facilities due to their affordability and also for reasons of safety.
Neelima VP, 18, a resident of Thiruvananthapuram, has applied for a BA Programme at the Kirori Mal College. She said, “I have applied there as I was eligible for the course under the first cutoff. I would prefer to wait for subsequent cutoffs and switch to a college that has a hostel for girls. Accommodation is an important factor. My parents are more inclined towards opting for a college hostel than other options such as a paying guest (PG) accommodation or a private hostel since the latter two are generally more expensive.” Although hostels are closed now, Neelima is hopeful that they may reopen once the pandemic subsides.
The higher cutoffs this year have also caused a setback to students wishing to opt for on-campus studies. “Since most colleges that offer hostel facilities are on the North Campus, many of my friends have not been able to apply to these colleges as their cutoffs have remained high. They are opting for South Campus colleges and that leaves them with no choice but to go in for PGs or local hostels,” Neelima said.
Of the 354,005 applicants this year, nearly 60% (211,479) are from outside Delhi. Hindu College principal Anju Shrivastava said, “The lack of hostel facilities will definitely be a concern to students. Our hostels are reasonably priced and safe and that has encouraged more outstation students to apply especially from remote areas. While we have no plans to reopen hostels currently, we will take a call once the university reopens.”
While Lady Shri Ram College of Women earlier told HT that it plans to admit only first-year students this year to its hostels and reduce the number of residents per room, several DU colleges including Miranda House, Hindu College, Indraprastha College for women, and Ramjas College said they are waiting for university directives on the matter.
“Due to the pandemic, parents generally don’t want their children to travel to far-off places for the next six months to a year at least. Unavailability of hostels will also be a decisive factor. However, we haven’t observed any noticeable change in the number of outstation admissions so far and a clearer picture will only emerge once admissions are over. It is too early to tell, one way or the other, at this point,” said Manoj Khanna, principal of Ramjas College.
Meanwhile, for students, it is a game of wait and watch. Suman Mishra, who has applied at Miranda House, said, “I have been staying at home all my life and have no experience of living elsewhere. My parents will be relatively less stressed if I manage to get into a college hostel. Keeping Covid-19 in mind, hygiene is also a major factor and we don’t know how PG accommodations fare on this aspect. We will decide what to do once college reopens.”
Hansraj College principal Rama Sharma said, “We are not taking admissions for hostels till offline classes resume. We are accepting requests for hostel seats from students. But no allotments will be made until offline classes resume.”