Best 5 Policy for ICSE and SSC
Admissions to 5,000 junior colleges in Maharashtra will finally begin on Friday after the Supreme Court said that the state government should extend its Best-5 policy to ICSE students for this academic year. College principals predicted that admission cut-offs would rise by two to three percentage points from last year's levels.
“We are relieved that the Supreme Court has given justice to SSC students,” said Balasaheb Thorat, state education minister, adding that admissions would begin in two days after officials make the necessary changes to the software being used for online admissions. The state will announce the schedule on Wednesday.
The admissions process has been delayed by two weeks, so the court’s interim order will bring relief to the state’s 16 lakh SSC and 18,000 ICSE and CBSE students. The court is likely to pass a final judgement in October.
A bench headed by Justice VS Sirpurkar provided details about how the Best-5 scheme would apply to ICSE students: they can choose subjects only from group I and group II, not group III. Subjects in group II are high-scoring, with half the marks coming from internal assessment. The court has also given ICSE students the option of considering all seven subjects.
“We are happy about the verdict,” said Gerry Arathoon, officiating chief executive and secretary of the ICSE board. “But not very happy that subjects from group III will not be counted in the Best-5 percentage.”
Harish Salve, senior counsel for the state argued that admitting ICSE students on the basis of Best-5 would be fair provided they passed maths and science. The ICSE board allows students to drop both maths and science, but the SSC board does not allow this.
The Best-Five policy for both ICSE and SSC students will definitely push up cut-off percentages for junior college admissions, said college principals. They predicted a minimum two to three percentage points increase in cut-offs from last year. Also, unlike previous years when top slots in top colleges in the first list were taken by ICSE and CBSE students, this year SSC students will be prominently placed as well.
While the all-India ICSE topper has a percentage of 98.8 based on her English plus best four subjects, in the state several students have scored a perfect 100, thanks to 25 marks for sports quota.
“The SSC advantage will show,” said Kirti Narian, principal, Jai Hind College. “Earlier, a fair number of the first list would be ICSE and CBSE students but that will change now. Cut-offs will rise by two to three percentage points from last year.”
Educationists feel SSC students will have an advantage because the SC verdict does not allow ICSE students to choose any Group III if they follow the best five method.
“Group III subjects include high scoring subjects such as physical training and technical drawing and 50 per cent of these subjects are internal assessment, so they give ICSE students a big push,” said Basanti Roy, former secretary of the SSC and HSC board, Mumbai division. “How much advantage would SSC students gain can only be determined when the admissions lists come out, but cut-offs will rise.”
But Father Frazer of St Xavier’s College rationalised, “While the cut-offs might rise, it will be proportionate to the increase in every student’s scores, so the degree of competition will remain the same.”
While colleges are glad that the issue is resolved, they are worried about the delay in the academic term. “Usually junior colleges begin by July 1 but now it seems like it will be either July-end or August beginning because the admission process will take about 10 days,” said Naresh Chandra, principal, Birla College in Kalyan.
“Had the state accepted the ICSE students’ demand to extend Best-Five to them as well earlier this delay could have been avoided,” said an ICSE school principal, requesting anonymity.
We would love to hear your opinion and views on this in the comments below.