University of Delhi, popularly known as DU is one of the premier Universities of India. With its global ranking under 400, courtesy THES-QS world university rankings and Asian ranking under 100, courtesy QS Asian University Rankings, DU marks its presence in second most populous country of the world, India as the topmost educational University. Over the last seven decades the University has grown into one of the largest universities in India and in the world. At present, there are 16 faculties, 86 academic departments and 77 colleges spread all over the capital city of India, supporting around half a million students all over the world.
The major challenges for DU and its administration has always been the admission procedure and management of such large number of students through various stages of admission process and post admission updates. To be in sync and updated with technology, DU has come up with some of the creative ideas every year to keep the admission process simple yet efficient. Not only for admissions to the new students, it has also been supportive enough to all the existing students by providing them facilities that reduce the response time and handle their queries efficiently. This year, DU has taken advantage of Web 2.0 in managing its admission process. With very high cutoff percentages for entry into different courses, Web 2.0 support is helping students to select their dream colleges and courses without shedding a drop of sweat.
When the University took birth, only three colleges existed in Delhi then: St. Stephen’s College founded in 1881, Hindu College founded in 1899 and Ramjas College founded in 1917, which were subsequently affiliated to it. The University thus had a modest beginning with just three colleges, two faculties (Arts and Science) and about 750 students enrolled in the undergraduate (UG) and postgraduate (PG) courses. In October 1933, the University offices and the Library shifted to the Vice regal Lodge Estate, and till today this site houses the offices of the main functionaries of the University. The University has grown into one of the largest universities in India. At present, there are 16 faculties, 86 academic departments, 77 colleges and 5 other recognized institutes spread all over the city, with 132435 regular students (UG: 114494, PG:17941) and 261169 students (UG:258831, PG:2338) in non-formal education program.
Sir Maurice Gwyer, the then Vice-Chancellor, realizing the importance of a distinguished faculty to act as role models, relentlessly searched for talent all over the country and roped in men of eminence to this University, such as Prof. D.S. Kothari in Physics, Prof. T.R. Sheshadri in Chemistry, Prof. P Maheshwari in Botany and Prof. M L Bhatia in Zoology. Five Departments namely Chemistry, Geology, Zoology, Sociology and History have been awarded the status of the Centres of Advanced Studies. These Centres of Advanced Studies have carved a niche for themselves as Centres of Excellence in teaching and research in their respective areas. In addition, a good number of University Departments receive grants under the Special Assistance Program of the UGC in recognition of their outstanding academic work. 10 Departments (Germanic & Romance Studies, Hindi, Persian, Geography, Music, East Asian Studies, Anthropology, Mathematics, B.R.Ambedkar, M.I.L.) receive grants under DRS, 2 Departments (Buddhist Studies, English) under DSA, 3 Departments (English, Buddhist Studies, Social Work) under AISHSS and 3 Departments (African Studies, East Asian Studies, Developing Countries Research Centre) get grants under Area Studies Programs. Department of Adult, Continuing Education and Extension and Women’s Studies & Development Centre of the University are also getting special funding from UGC. The University today boasts of as many as 15 big libraries apart from libraries in colleges. The University Science Instrumentation Centre (USIC) which is now situated close to the Physics and Chemistry Departments houses a number of sophisticated and high-end research instruments. These instruments are used quite frequently by Teachers and Research Scholars of postgraduate departments of the University as well as by many other institutions in Delhi and its neighborhood. The University has recently laid fibre-optic network in the North and the South Campuses connecting all colleges and departments online.
Ever since its inception, a strong commitment to excellence in teaching and research has made the University of Delhi a role-model and path-setter for other universities in the country. Its rich academic tradition has always attracted the most talented students who later on went on to make important contributions to their society.
The ever changing admission criteria of University of Delhi have been due to:
- The overflowing applications from students all over the world.
- Rising percentages in the senior secondary examinations by various boards.
- Implementation of different reservation of seats in University.
- Wastage of time and money over huge amount of stationary and other office products.
- Mess created at the University campus at the time of admissions.
DU started with only 3 colleges under its belt which has now expanded to 77 colleges. The admission process of DU has been one of the highlights for Education Industry in India, giving option for studying to a lot of students. The University is known for its creativity and has been revising its admission procedure in past one decade or so. This is mainly due to the rising number of applicants from all over India and world for various UG and PG courses. In the early part of last decade, every college used to sell out separate admission forms for each and every course enrolled under the University. It was filled up by the candidate and submitted to the respective colleges. After critical evaluation, the cutoffs used to be decided and thus students were admitted into the respective colleges. But heavy increase in sale of forms and inconvenience of travelling to many of the 80 different colleges in the scorching summer by students and their parents gave the administrative department of University to bring out a common admission form for all the colleges. In 2007, Optical Mark Recognition (OMR) sheet based forms were introduced consisting of options of all the colleges and their respective courses. So the students need not to visit all the colleges separately and were given relief from filling a pile of forms. There were few common centers to distribute and collect the forms made and on the basis of these OMR sheets and cutoff was being evaluated by the respective colleges.
The challenge was to handle burgeoning number of application for admission to the University and managing half a million students with their examinations, results and various other activities.
In the online domain, the World Wide Web (WWW) revolutionized the world of Internet. It not only helped in globalization of the world but also helped in getting people closer. But as the time moved on, the viewers of WWW felt the need to interact more openly with each other and thus aroused the world of Web 2.0. It is the next and modified version of WWW which actually involves lot of interaction among members of the community. The various forms of Web 2.0 include blogs, social networking sites, tagging, social bookmarking, multimedia sharing, RSS etc. All these web 2.0 techniques reduce the response time variably and give a user friendly informal environment.
The World Wide Web when created helped the DU to connect to the world. The colleges came up with their websites showcasing their skills and achievements along with their history which helped a student to know more about deciding which college to go prior to the filling up of forms. DU also had a separate website which was linked to all the colleges enrolled with it carrying all the static information about course and college details. It contained the admission procedure and some important information related to admissions. But then it was a very slow process and students were not benefited instantly.
Came 30th May, 2011, and DU launched its webpage on one of the most popular social networking site – “Facebook” which is considered to be the prime form of Web 2.0 these days. The page was launched by the Vice Chancellor of the University and it became an instant hit. Within hours of its launch, 117 people liked it which increased to 950 likes by late evening. As the news spread about page launch of DU on Facebook (fb), the number of likes increased heavily. By Tuesday evening it crossed a mark of 3000 likes which by Saturday increased to a gigantic number of 85,600. Subsequently the number of likes increased and DU webpage became an instant source of information for thousands of students aspiring to get admission into DU. It currently holds close 0.1 million followers with numbers still increasing.
The reason why this fb page became such a hit was the involvement of students in the interaction with DU authorities. The students now don’t have to wait for a week’s time to submit a query and then receive response on their personal mail ids. Instead they created their accounts on fb and got associated with the DU page, posted their queries in a single thread and got instantaneous response. All the updates reached their walls directly and they were aware of all the latest happenings in admission process of DU. It also eliminated the workload of the authorities to answer thousands of queries individually and rather replied on common thread which was visible to all. The introduction of fb page by DU not only reduced the response time and workload for the DU authorities but also gave a platform to all the students where they could actually interact and discuss their problems with each other. This also made the process of selecting a course and seeking admission transparent and hassle-free.
As per the people of DU behind the development of this concept for this year’s admission process, since there was no more filling up of forms so it was the best time to introduce a DU on platform like fb as a part of Web 2.0. This was required as lot of students were anxious enough to know about admission procedure as they didn’t have to visit University campus for filling up of forms and just had to wait for the cutoffs. So a common platform was the best possible solution. “Open Days” were also conducted in the campus but still it was not apt to cover many students. Also the current DU website does not provide scope for suggestions and opinions of the students or other visitors to the website.
The Professors and Lecturers are also relieved with continuous queries of students and they think that this is a step towards modernization where traditional approach of verbal information would be replaced by more interactive form of information distribution. The students would also prefer this mode of communication as they can attach themselves more to this form of information comfortably as quoted by one of the Professor of a leading college.
Students seeking admission in Undergraduate courses were excited with this new step undertaken by DU. They think that it’s good to see a Central University going along with technology updations and helping the students tremendously. They were happy to see instant replies on fb page for their queries and were excited to discuss their common set of problems directly with DU authorities. Candidates residing outside Delhi were particularly relieved that fb is accessible from their hometown and they don’t have to visit Delhi, write mails or call any authorities to get the required information for the admission. They were continuously accessing the fb page and were updated with each and every piece of information being posted there.
- With increasing load and competition, the academic industry has to be on its toes every time and has to mould itself according to the changing technological advancement.
- There has to be proper mechanism in the education industry, where response time to any query in any system is quite low.
- Education Industry can hold back its students only when it provides them a competitive, user friendly and technology-savvy environment by using innovative processes and new technologies.
- Old system of paper maintenance and files system is updated by the Government of India in its education sector.
- Global ranking has to be justified with making the system efficient.
The inclusion of Web 2.0 with University of such size has really given it a boost. Various forums and threads have really helped students to plan their careers and chose the right option while applying in DU. On the similar lines, various other education institutions and media agencies have been trying to use the web 2.0 form to cash in students and promote themselves. This technique not only serves with lesser response time but also makes everyone a part of the whole process.
The whole idea of getting better website and inclusion of DU webpage on Facebook was suggested by the Vice-chancellor of University of Delhi, Dr. Dinesh Singh. The DU authorities held various meetings with Facebook team in creating this idea and helping in its execution. Various media coverage was given to DU’s launch of fb page.
We would like to personally thank Dr Ajay Gupta, Director, Computer Centre, University of Delhi and Ms. Seema Sirpal, Senior System Programmer, Computer Centre, University of Delhi in getting the inputs at various levels.
We also thank all the faculty member and students of DU who helped us in getting to know the real picture and problematic issues at the time of admissions.
Official DU Website - http://www.du.ac.in
Webpage of DU on Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/UniversityofDelhi
Media coverage on launch of DU page on Facebook