E-governance can ease admission travails
Posted by egovindia on July 7, 2006
|E-governance can ease admission travails|
The UK has used e-governance to its advantage in college admissions, why can’t we emulate it?
Posted online: Friday, July 07, 2006 at 0000 hours IST
Along with the announcement of high-school results these days, college admissions are ‘hot’ too. With the seats in colleges being just a fraction of school enrolment (about 8-10% in India compared to 25-50% in many countries), there is a huge demand-supply mismatch.
The plethora of managements—private, public, university, autonomous colleges, affiliated colleges, aided institutions, unaided institutions and minority institutions—and bewildering variety of options—business, engineering, medicine, dental, social science, arts, law, veterinary, mathematical/computing sciences, technology, architecture, mass communications, literature, home science, environment and philosophy—can confuse anyone, let alone teenagers dreaming of a long professional career.
There are hundreds of universities and thousands of colleges, each with dozens of options. Till recently, youngsters would go by ‘established practices’. Boys would choose mechanical engineering, girls medicine. This is changing. People opt out of engineering to pursue fashion design and culinary arts; career decisions are no longer influenced solely by parents.
Against such a complex backdrop is the ‘administration’ of college admissions. We have a plethora of ‘entrance examinations’—Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) for admission to the IITs, a Common Entrance Test (CET) of various hues in every state and an AIEEE (All India Engineering Entrance Examination). The examinations are not coordinated, leading to clash of dates. The results are out on different dates and different colleges use the results very differently.
The CET in Karnataka is considered one of the better-administered systems. At least till the 90s, Karnataka was the only state with the largest number of seats, thanks to the liberal government policy allowing the private sector to set up institutions. And the state had the foresight to think ‘pan-India’ with 50% of the seats for ‘out-of-state’ candidates. CET in Karnataka was completely computerised, followed transparent norms, was efficient and generally on time. Of late, things have not been going well with it—dates are not kept, processes are cumbersome and there is too much confusion in ‘policy’.
With so much happening in IT, one would look at a system that is completely online, super-efficient, available 24×7 all the 52 weeks, inexpensive and user-friendly. The Universities & College Admission Service (UCAS) in the UK is a system worth emulating.
. India has a plethora of colleges that offer different courses
• Also, admission-seekers have to deal with different entrance examinations
• IT can be used to have an admission sysem that is efficient and user-friendly
UCAS is a central link to students and colleges and automates all the processes to bring the key stakeholders of the admissions ecosystem together. Registered as a charity, UCAS keeps costs low though the service is of a very high quality. Starting in 1993 after amalgamating many individual efforts to coordinate college admissions, UCAS aims to grow into the “world’s most respected admissions operations coordinator in the electronic age”.
In 2005, more than 325 institutions of higher learning participated and admissions to 4,05,369 college seats based on 22,85,506 applicants who applied online were carried out by UCAS—a scale much larger than even our ‘large’ admission systems like CET Karnataka. UCAS has already become one of the ‘Top 15’ sites in the UK. This mammoth operation is completed within 55 days of the announcement of high-school results in the UK—a true measure of success of e-governance.
The UCAS portal has friendly features that guide prospective students applying online, help with technological, procedural or financial difficulties and even supplement paper-based application processing. The system is secure (though security was breached a couple of times), keeps students’ information confidential and is considered trustworthy by competing colleges.
UCAS helps colleges re-engineer their processes, saves costs for the administration; allows professors to collect more information about students; enables students to update information and track the status of applications and avoids duplication of efforts for applying to multiple institutions. About 75% of the applicants in 2005 applied online. UCAS expects to reach 100% online applications soon.
Such a system, if planned and executed efficiently, will bring in a lot more transparency and efficiency to the admissions process in India. One hopes the powers that be take a serious look at this option.
—The writer is the director of IIIT-Bangalore. These are his personal views