The considerable success achieved by the State in mitigating the COVID-19 crisis, coupled with the glum scenario that prevails in neighbouring States, including Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, is likely to prompt many aspirants of higher education courses to seek admissions in Kerala.
Anticipating an increased demand, the government has decided to sanction a hike in intake in arts and science colleges in the next academic year.
While State universities normally increase the sanctioned strength for the much sought-after courses such as BCom every year, the peculiar situation could lead to the creation of far more number of seats than usual, official sources pointed out.
While many youngsters from the State usually seek admissions for undergraduate (UG) and postgraduate (PG) programmes elsewhere, the student outflow could be much less this year with the pandemic-induced panic yet to subside in most parts of the country. The move to hike student intake is bound to benefit many aspirants who fear their long-term career goals could be disrupted by failing to receive admission, an official said.
Most colleges have sanctioned strengths of 60 for UG arts and science courses, while a few institutions have been permitted to admit more students on the basis of their facilities. Similarly, the intake for PG courses usually hover around 15 seats.
The numbers of permitted seats is set to increase by nearly 15 depending on the facilities that were in place in the colleges. The universities have been tasked with enquiring the willingness of the colleges and recommending the hike after ascertaining their laboratory, seating capacity and other facilities. Along expected lines, BCom, BBA, BCA, BSc Computer Science, BSc Chemistry and BA English are among those courses which are likely to be given prominence.
Official sources said the proportion of reserved and management quota seats will remain unchanged despite the seat increase. While they said the hike would be permitted under the special circumstances, it was yet to be known whether the colleges would revert to the previous sanctioned strengths the subsequent year.
The government expects many takers for BTech seats this year. Only 27,333 out of the approved intake of 47,563 BTech seats were filled last year, leaving around 42.5% seats vacant.
While welcoming the move, academicians urged the government to give priority to government and aided colleges while sanctioning additional seats. Adequate safeguards should be in place to prevent students from being exploited by private college managements at the time of crisis, they said.