Hindu College principal Anju Srivastava in an interview recently said, “The ‘atmosphere’ that sets apart a premier college might be lost because of COVID-19 restrictions but students will still have a taste of what they have to offer with college society activities moving online and value-added courses to choose from.”
On being asked about:
What students can expect in terms of cut-off marks for admissions this year?
He said that the discussions on the cut-offs are yet not done, but the number of students who score above 95 and 99 has grown exponentially. Given the limited number of seats available in the college that cut-off will likely be kept very high to about 100 per cent at least at the beginning. “and once that’s done hopefully we will have the opportunity to bring it down a little bit lower to hopefully be able to meet the expectations and hopes of students.”
On the college and the courses, it has to offer?
He replied, “The Hindu College is a very old college, it’s more than 120 years old, with very humble beginnings but over the years it has built a reputation for itself and has been recognized as a premier and prestigious institution for several decades now.” Even with 13 students, in the beginning, women students have always been welcomed and the college has been inclusive.
Hindu College offers 15 courses, of which six are science courses, five are humanities courses, and of course, we have our commerce and language courses. These courses are conventional and foundational areas of study, there are extremely important as these subjects are foundations from which all the other newer programmes offered today stem and branch out. Last year the college also offered several short-term value added courses like toxicology, Python, business analytics and behavioural economics. More courses are expected to add up this year too. Anuj Srivastava, principal of Hindu College also added, “Something we have had for years but that we especially activated this year with the shift to the online mode was a tie-up with Coursera to enable students to access online courses on offer there free of cost.”
The experiences of teaching-learning during Covid and the adaptations of the college to this change?
Srivastava mentioned that in the beginning, the adaptation to digital devices was difficult for teachers; mostly arts and language teachers as they have been teaching offline for donkey years and the shift to online had more resistance than for science teachers. With months passing the teacher worked their way through. With 40 minutes restrictions with Zoom meetings in the initial months to now shifting to MS Teams and other technologies have made the experience organised and adaptive. Although the pace is different now and the physical classroom could have been better, the varsity has been working through it with the idea that “if it can’t be cured, it has to be endured”.
As for the learning part of it, Initially, students did take it a little lightly but now they know how it is going to be and they also have pulled themselves together. In November, as the new students joined the college decided to activate the counselling centre and classroom sessions in the college to address students’ wellbeing. A lot of cases of intense trauma and depression were seen and if necessary the college has intervened, contacted the parents if required and ask to communicate with them that things are not going great for the child. He said, “I’m happy to say that I think we as a college have been handling this aspect well.”
He added, ” We have around 30 student societies in college, and with time, the students and teachers found ways to carry these online as well. The new students were also able to be introduced to these societies so they’re being able to get a flavour of the college’s life and of learning outside the classroom. Of course, the students are very creative and they’ve even managed to take their dance performances and music online.”
The forthcoming batch of students, this batch of students who didn’t even go to school in Class XII, will be a harder batch to engage with and the faculty will have to come with new ways to create an interest in them for the classroom and their area of study as important things like learning through peer-to-peer interaction and teacher-student interaction has been compromised.
The unique things about the college that students might be interested in?
One of the first things that draw students towards the college is the alumni of the college, which is full of prominent illustrious names—bureaucrats, politicians, journalists, we have done really well in sports as well. The atmosphere of the college with the kind of freedom and environment it gives students to express, learn and explore is an integral part of the college’s experience. The principal said he himself tries to be as accessible as possible, and questioning, discussion and openness is very much part of the flavour of a student’s life here. Apart from that, students are from the length and breadth of the college, from different backgrounds, and there has also been a significant number of international students in recent years. The cultural diversity and diversity of experience in the college is also a big draw.
His take on what this new batch of students hoping to enter DU can expect in a university changed by the pandemic?
Anuj Srivastava, Principal of Hindu College, “I know that this must be a time of unimaginable uncertainty and anxiety for these students especially after the year they’ve had and that they must be worrying about whether their marks will get them the college and courses of their choice. I want to wish them all the best first of all, and then I’d like to tell them to not be discouraged if admissions do not work out exactly as they had hoped. There are around 70 colleges in Delhi University offering a large number of courses and there are lots of opportunities for them within that. There is a uniform curriculum across all these colleges, and Delhi University is a premier university and there is a certain standard across them. What might differ is the atmosphere, but even that hardly counts with the current mode of operation.”