Cut-offs for admissions to first year junior colleges (FYJC) could spike this year, as extra marks given to SSC students for sports and cultural activities could inflate the total scores, principals said.

Cut-offs are the marks at which colleges close admissions.

These marks are expected to soar in Mumbai colleges this year, with at least 10 students from every state board school asking for extra marks in the Secondary School Certificate (SSC) exams.

The extra marks rule

The board announced earlier this year that students excelling at singing, dancing, folk arts and drawing will also be given extra marks.

Till last year, this facility was only for students bagging laurels in sport tournaments.

Such students can get any where between 10 and 25 marks — lifting their scores by at least 2% to 4%, and giving them a huge advantage over their peers.

They will also enjoy a reservation in colleges under the arts, culture and sports quotas.

The problem?

While extra marks is a huge advantage for students passing out of state board schools, principals said the rising cut-offs will make it a lot more difficult for students who don’t play a sport or pursue an art, and for those from non-state board schools.

“This is unjust on students who are relying solely on their merit to secure admissions,” said Kiran Mangaokar, principal. Khalsa College, Matunga.

What’s more worrying, said experts, is that hundreds of SSC students will be able to avail these marks as the government has made the eligibility criteria simpler (see box).

For instance, students can get extra marks for taking the intermediate drawing exam conducted by the government. Students who score an A grade in this exam will get 15 marks more, those who get B and C will get 10 and 5 marks more respectively. Schools said many of their students were applying to claim this benefit.

“At least seven to eight students from our school have applied for the marks, as most of them passed the intermediate drawing exam,” said Freny Mehta, a former principal at the Alexandra Girls English Institution, who has now retired.

Similarly, the rules to claim sports marks were also relaxed in March, making it easier for students to qualify to get 25 marks — the most allotted in the quota.

Under the new rules, participating in international tournaments and even ranking in the top three in national competitions make children eligible for 25 marks in both SSC and HSC exams.

Participation in nationals or winning state-level tourneys will get them 20 marks.

Inflating scores

Principals are worried these changes will lead to an inflation of marks in the SSC board.

“I am all for rewarding students who play sports, but making it easy to qualify for them is unfair on other regular students,” said Rohan Bhat, chairman, Children’s Academy Group of Institutions, Kandivli and Malad.

Some principals, however, said the additional marks will encourage students to take part in extra-curricular activities that contribute to their overall development.

“We spread awareness about the extra marks among our schools and students,” said Meenakshi Walke, principal, IES Secondary School, Bhandup.

“Children who take part in sports or are pursuing cultural activities need the benefit; otherwise parents often prevent their children from pursuing such activities fearing it will affect their academics.”

Vijay Joshi, principal of KJ Somaiya College, Vidyavihar, said the additional marks will only affect cut-offs by 1% or 2%, which will not cause a drastic change.

The department, however, should carefully scrutinise the documents students submit, he said.

“It is good to acknowledge the extra efforts taken by students, but there is a huge racket of fake certificates and institutions, and this needs to be subverted,” said Joshi. “The department must ensure all claims are genuine and no student is able to avail of the marks through unfair means