The DU dream – A reality check

Sanjay Arora

You are dying to follow the trail of your academically accomplished friends who are headed to a college under Delhi University. Your family, at the same time, wants you to stay in Chandigarh and opt for a local University so that you can continue your studies while staying at home. What do you do? And it is not just about Chandigarh – you may be in Kolkata, Patna, Chennai, Kottayam or Ahmedabad.

You have local universities which are old and are equally respectable places to start off the academic journey. Your life for the subsequent years dangles on this key choice made today. While both the universities have their own share of advantages and disadvantages, one should be aware of all the plausible options in order to make an informed decision.

Delhi University has a vast pool of academic courses in terms of quantity (subject preference) and also in quality. Starting with Bachelor’s degree in French, German, Italian, Punjabi, Instrumentation, Delhi University takes in a variety of subjects. The students get vibrant exposure to take up part-time job opportunities or extracurricular activities (clubs or societies), which provide a strong stimulus for personal development and futuristic opportunities.

On the contrary, local universities may not offer many language-based courses. At the same time courses are available in anthropology, zoology, physics and such. Unless you have a particular subject in mind (especially if it’s a language-based subject), you should take a look at the courses offered at both the universities, at least check the availability and scope around that subject first before settling for a lesser known College under Delhi University.

All good universities would surely have a wide range of renowned and competent faculty members at least in some of the subjects. For the past couple of years, it has been widely noted by the students of DU that the teaching quality has deteriorated, especially in the colleges which are not a part of the main campus. Therefore, the decision should be department-specific. You should look into the details of your preferred department and that too college wise before making a decision.

Panjab University has a rich history in the field of research. Panjab University Research Journal (Arts) PURJA, a biannual journal of international stature, publishes research papers of highest values ​​in diverse areas such as humanities, arts etc. PU surpassed IITs as well in terms of the number of citations per year. Some courses have mandatory research projects to prepare the students for PhD.

Now when it comes to placement, Panjab University has an active placement cell, although it comes nowhere near the one in Delhi University. The average salary offered is around Rs 3-4 lakh per annum (LPA), whereas Delhi University’s average CTC is around Rs 7 LPA, the highest offered being Rs 37.7 LPA in 2019.

If you want to measure quality of education through the lens of placement opportunities, then you have to choose the right course and area of ​​specialization. Courses like Economics, Commerce, Statistics, Maths and Computer Science have a better chance of immediate gains. You can make a responsible decision based on your future plans (research or job opportunities). If you intend to pursue research work in future in a department where Panjab University has respectable faculty, you should surely lean on Panjab University.

The fee structure is another factor while choosing a university. It may be Rs 6,000 / year or 35,000 / year at DU, depending on the college preference. The fee structure of Panjab University is steeper, being within the range of Rs 9,000-60,000. Students tend to get more inclined towards Delhi University since the fee structure is more flexible and it provides them an opportunity to move away from their parents’ shadows and live in a new city.

However, Delhi is an expensive city to live in. The paying guest accommodations come at a minimum amount of Rs 10,000 (with poor food quality and maintenance) whereas living in a city like Kolkata is one third as expensive in terms of accommodation as well as transport, food and additional expenditures. As per empirics shared by DU insiders, it offers only around 9,000 hostel rooms to accommodate approximately 2 lakh students who are currently pursuing different courses at DU. Average hostel fee at DU would be around Rs 13,000 / year whereas it is would be far less at your local university.

Delhi University is a confluence of cultures and is more open to diversity. Delhi University would surely look like a more reasonable option if you are just looking for respite from parents breathing down your neck. If you are looking for research-oriented and teaching type of career, your local university would be the way to go. For example, Panjab University has the best library across the nation and Chandigarh is a calmer and more peaceful place to live in.

You may have a tendency to let your desire for autonomy or a lack of it to guide your college decision. It is important, however, to let your future goals and employability drive you. Your dependence on the safety net of the family should not be so high that you are never able to start working on your aspirations. At the same time, your rebellion should not be so wild that you lose sight of what is best for you. Evaluate your future goals based on professional parameters and your decision shall not fail your career expectations.

In the words of Anupreeta Das, Delhi now belonged to everyone who lived in it but no one belonged to Delhi.

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