This year, the number of students appearing for the Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) and Secondary School Certificate (SSC) examinations here has jumped by 6.1% and 3.7%, respectively. The numbers are expected to go up further as the board continues to accept applications a day before the exams.

“The number of schools is high in this division and is constantly growing. This year the numbers have increased considerably and we have to increase the number of centres to accommodate the students. The process to arrange logistics is underway ,“ said Duttatray Jagtap, chairperson, Maharashtra State Board's Mumbai division. The board is expected to set up over 500 and 900 centres for HSC and SSC exams.

Officials said the increase among SSC candidates is because more students are continuing till class X and more schools are opening up. For HSC, they reasoned that a high number of students from other boards prefer to switch. “In addition to the increasing number of SSC students who continue for HSC, we get a lot of students from other boards for junior college. For this year, we have 18,112 students from other state, national and international boards,“ said Siddeshwar Chandekar, secretary of the division.

Principals feel a large number of students switch to the state board as they want to continue with higher education in the city.“A lot of students study in international boards but do not plan to go abroad for graduation. For them, moving to a junior college works better. Also, course work in some boards is very heavy and it makes it difficult for students to concentrate on entrance exams,“ said Ashok Wadia, principal, Jai Hind College, Churchgate.

The Mumbai division makes up for almost 24% of the total candidates for the boards. But the high numbers mean conducting the exams for the division is a challenge. Last March, bogged down by the high number of candidates and shortage of staff, officials at the Mumbai division had demanded that the division be split for more efficiency . “We understand that the student strength in the division is very high and we will consider the request. However, we haven't arrived at any decision yet,“ said Gangadhar Mhamane, chairperson of the board.