New admission rules which prevent quota students from booking seats in the general category, coupled with fewer high scorers in Secondary School Certificate (SSC) exams this year brought down the first-year junior college (FYJC) cut-offs in top Mumbai colleges by up to 6% in the first merit list for 2017-18.

Chaos ensued in colleges on Tuesday because the merit list, scheduled to be out on Monday at 5pm, was released at 1am, but colleges were able to view it only after 11am. The delays were on account of a new agency, Nysa Asia, handling the admissions.

The maximum dip was in the commerce stream, which had the highest number of allotments (92,083 students). At Narsee Monjee College, Vile Parle — one of the most sought after colleges for commerce — cut-offs fell to 91.83% from 94.5% last year. Similarly, at HR College, Churchgate, admissions closed at 91.4%, lower than last year’s 93.4%.

Principals attributed this to the new rule in which students taking admission to quota seats are excluded from the general category lists. “Until last year, quota students would apply for general seats, too, driving up cut-offs,” said Parag Ajagaonkar, principal, NM College.

Science stream cut-offs fell steeply even in coveted colleges. At Jai Hind College, Churchgate, the cut-off tumbled down to 84.6%, much lower than last year’s 90.4%. While commerce admissions fell to 89.4 % from 91.8% and Arts dipped to 89.8% from 91.4% last year. At St Xavier’s Fort, the science cut-off was the lowest in two years at 89.8% ( it was 91.4% last year and 91.8% in 2015). But its arts cut-off dipped just by a few points to 94% from 94.4% last year.

Similarly, Mithibai College, Vile Parle, cut-offs dropped by 3% to 4% across streams. Science fell to 85.17% from 89.20%, commerce was 87.6% from 91.6%, and arts closed at 83.8%, significantly lower than 87.33% in the previous year.

“We are surprised that the cut-off dropped by so many points even though there was a surge,” said Ashok Wadia, principal of the college. He said principals were expecting cut-offs to soar after students were awarded 15 to 25 extra marks for excelling in cultural and sporting activities in the SSC exams.

Vidyadhar Joshi, vice-principal, VG Vaze Kelkar, Mulund, blamed the trend on few students scoring in 90s in SSC exams, This year, the number of students scoring between 90 to 95% in SSC dipped to 10,991 from 12,523, while 2,584 students scored above 95%. “Students scoring more than 90% were less this year,” said Joshi.

On the other hand, few junior colleges attached to schools saw higher cut-offs. At Thakur Vidya Mandir, Kandivli, science cut-off jumped to 93.16%, while it was around 89%-90% last year. “Our list begins at 98.2%, which is considerably higher than what we have received in the past,” said the school authorities.