Covid effect on second academic year in a row: Nearly 20 pc seats vacant across SPPU departments

The maximum impact was seen in those opting for diploma courses as only 1,665 seats of a total 2,240 available seats were filled.

At the end of the admission process for departments across Savitribai Phule Pune University for the academic year 2021-22, a head count of students on the university’s rolls exposes a grim reality. The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic is not just going to remain a blot on the previous academic year but will continue into next year as well. A clear indicator is the impact on SPPU admissions, which have seen a considerable drop.

While it may be too early for total admission numbers from all affiliated colleges to come in, the admission data of SPPU campus, where across 54 departments, about 96 graduate, post-graduate and diploma/certificate courses are offered, show that nearly 20 per cent seats have remained vacant.

Online education, stay-at-home orders, closure of hostels, absence of earn and learn opportunities and more may be among the reasons why the pandemic may have crushed the academic dreams of many students.

Dr Nitin Karmalkar, vice-chancellor of SPPU, said the story goes beyond the numbers. “Every year, when we have the admission rounds and the notice goes out, our seats are full in the first round itself. Our courses are so popular… But this year, we have even had to conduct three rounds in some faculties, which basically shows the ground reality,” he said.

Echoing his sentiment, Uttam Chavan, deputy registrar (admissions), said that of the total intake of 7,627 seats across all courses at SPPU, the final enrolment figure stopped at 6,184, which means 1,443 seats remained vacant. The graduate courses saw 350 of 500 seats on offer being filled up while 2,966 of the 3,248 post-graduate seats were taken, said Chavan.

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The maximum impact was seen in those opting for diploma courses as only 1,665 seats of a total 2,240 available seats were filled.

“Every year, we have less than 10 per cent vacancy and that is usually seen in certificate or diploma courses. Our post-graduate seats are almost full every year. But even then, overall vacancy is maximum between 8 to 10 percent. This year, comparatively, vacancy is higher. It could be because hostels are shut… usually students stay there, work part time and do diploma courses, so it takes care of their expenses. Some want to use library facilities as they are preparing for competitive exams too but currently, libraries are shut. We get a lot of outstation students, especially from rural areas. So that may be the impact Covid-19 pandemic has had on admissions of these students,” said Chavan.

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