No More Empty Chairs: West Bengal Gets Tough On Unfilled College Seats

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West Bengal is shaking things up regarding college admissions this year. To finally fill those empty seats, especially those reserved for students from disadvantaged backgrounds, the Higher Education Department is taking charge.

Say goodbye to the college-by-college online portals of the past – this year, it's all happening through a central government portal.

Here's the deal: in the past, colleges managed their online admissions and figured out what to do with any leftover reserved seats that nobody applied for. This often meant those seats just sat there, empty. This year, however, the department is stepping in after the second round of admissions. If nobody wants reserved seats, they'll be put back into the general pool through the central portal, giving everyone another shot.

This change comes after college principals lobbied for the government to take control. Last year, a whopping 53% of undergraduate seats across the state went unfilled, including a big chunk of reserved seats. Yikes! The new system aims to be more efficient and ensure all available seats are filled.

But that's not all. The department is also investigating why some departments, like Hindi or Urdu, aren't attracting applicants. They'll analyse the data to see if adjustments need to be made, possibly even reducing the seats offered in programs that aren't in high demand.

The department is considering bringing other types of colleges, like engineering or those for minority students, under this one big admissions umbrella.

So far, this revamped system's first phase seems to generate some interest. Over 5 lakh students have already submitted over 34 lakh applications. The first list of who got in (the merit list) will be out on July 12th, followed by a week for students to accept their offers. If you missed the first round, don't worry – there's a second one starting on August 8th, as mentioned in a report by The Telegraph.

This new centralized approach is a significant shift, and it remains to be seen if it will fill those empty seats. But one thing's for sure: West Bengal is finally taking action to address this long-standing issue, especially when making sure everyone has a fair shot at a college education.