THE COVID BATCH

India Today|July 06, 2020

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THE COVID BATCH
The pandemic has disrupted the academic year and forced students and colleges to rethink the admission process. Here’s our annual guide to the best colleges, with a difference
Kaushik Deka

The spread of COVID-19 has perhaps been the single-most disruptive development in the history of mankind since World War II. The impact has been disastrous in many ways, particularly in the way people learn, work, and socialize. From the world coming together to become a global village, people are now pulling away, both literally and otherwise.

The fear of proximity is what is forcing parents and boards to argue in the courts whether there should be a board examination—the make-or-break score for which is the ticket for a student to find admission in a reputed college. The disruption is evident. By this time, the 10+2 board results should have been out. Colleges should have released their cut-off list. Instead, the academic calendar is in limbo. Colleges are now expected to reopen in September and the admission process will go online. In fact, the biggest and most sudden transition the pandemic has forced is the switch to online education.

The next academic session will also be critically about the digital infrastructure colleges have, their ability and efficiency to enforce physical distancing, and how parents and students prioritize their goals—the safety of studying at home versus the privilege of enrolling in a star college in a big city. Three of India’s top hot-spots for higher education— Delhi, Mumbai, and Chennai, which attract thousands of students from India’s small towns and villages—are also the epicenters of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Will things return to normal, come September? How safe will it be to stay in a hostel or paying guest accommodation in big cities? How good are colleges in India’s smaller cities? Will the competition become more cut-throat this year as the number of Indian students going abroad will see a big dip due to COVID-19? India sent 202,014 students last year to the US, which is the second largest number of students any country sends to the US, after China.

Parents and students across India are grappling with these questions as they try to cope with an unprecedented situation. For the past two decades, the India Today Group’s survey has been the most authentic reflection of the state and progress of Indias colleges. The 24th edition of the survey assumes even more significance in light of COVID.

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July 06, 2020