Mumbai University’s graduating students lowest in 8 years, teachers call it pandemic impact

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Mumbai University’s convocation, scheduled on Wednesday, probably will see the lowest numbers of students graduating in eight years. Data from the university show that only about 1.52 lakh students, including 79,741 girls and 71,907 boys, will be awarded their degrees this year, lowest in at least eight years (see box). These students have graduated in the academic year 2022-23.
Educationists attribute it to the ‘side-effects’ of the Covid-19 pandemic. TOI had earlier highlighted the difficulties students faced in attempting the first full-fledged physical exams post the pandemic. Teachers and principals, however, claim that it will not have a long-term impact and the students’ performance has improved over the last year.
Data also showed that only in the two years of pandemic, the numbers of boy students graduating from Mumbai University exceeded the number of girls. In most years, including this year’s convocation, girls have done better at university-level exams.
During the two years of pandemic, exams had moved online, and the question papers were in multiple-choice question (MCQ) format. The success rate in most courses had shot up to 90%+ in the pandemic and more than two lakh students graduated in those two years. In 2022-23, the numbers dropped by 26%, compared to 2012-22. In absolute numbers, graduating students have gone down from 2.07 lakh to 1.51 lakh in the last one year. But compared to the pre-pandemic year of 2019-20, when the number of graduating students were 1.92 lakh, the numbers have dropped only by 20%.
Principal of RD National College, Neha Jagtiani, said that the performance of students was affected, when they came back to college after two and a half years. “In the three-year courses, this batch of students completed their first two years at home giving online exams. In the third year, we found many could not write answers. The performance of students was hit, especially in science programmes. With poor performance of students in undergraduate courses, the postgraduate admissions were impacted. We did not get enough students for some of the science courses,” said Jagtiani, adding that this year, the performance of students has definitely improved, and it will come back to normalcy in the next one year. “At college level, the pandemic gap will not have a long-term effect,” she said.
In the first semester exams, after exams moved offline in 2022-23, TOI had reported that the success rate in most exams was around 35% and that two thirds of students failed the papers. Teachers had complained that many students were leaving their answer sheets blank leaving no scope for giving marks and many had lost writing practice. A university official said that the convocation data numbers are incremental and some results that are pending may get added up to the overall numbers.

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