Paying the Price for Merit: Why Some Bengaluru Colleges are Setting Higher Cut-offs for Girls

Representative image.

Representative image.

Colleges in Bengaluru justified the discriminatory cut-offs on grounds that an increasing number of girls are scoring better marks than boys.

Bengaluru: Females are often referred to as the fairer sex, but why and how is it fair to discriminate against them when they fare much better in examinations as compared to their male counterparts? This is a question being asked by many students in Bengaluru as Pre-University (PU) colleges in the city have set separate cut-off marks for the two genders.

According to reports, the cut-off for boys opting for science in Bengaluru’s MES PU College is 92% while that for girls is 95%. In Christ Junior College, the cut-off for boys opting for science is 94.1% while that for girls is 95.1%. For boys choosing commerce, the cut-off is 95.5% while that for girls is 96% and above.

While many may argue that the difference in the cut-off percentage is merely a few points higher for girls, colleges argue that an increasing number of girls is scoring better marks than boys, thus increasing the number of admissions of girl students. However, colleges reportedly have been asked to maintain a 50-50 balance.

“Christ College was started for boys and it was only in 1978 that they were granted permission by the management to include girls,” said Christ University Vice-Chancellor Father Abraham. “But this came with the condition that girls should not exceed 50% of the total number of seats. The Karnataka PU Board has also made it mandatory for a 50-50 balance, but this 50% is very difficult to obtain because of the growing number of girls who apply for the seats.”

While this argument puts the onus on the policy created by the pre-university board, the discrimination against girl students has left many calling out this method as a punishment “for being smart”.

Social activist Tara Krishnaswamy expressed her opinion on this injustice. “India is a country where even after 70 years of independence, there is still a huge difference in the literacy rates of men and women,” she said. “When girls are trying to do well and you want to bridge the literacy gap, but then you further increase it, it is certainly discrimination.”

Krishnaswamy’s argument sparked a debate on social media, with many calling the rule absurd and regressive.

In a Facebook post, Eesha Banerjee said, “If men feel threatened by a woman’s success, they should strive to make themselves better. It’s too much of shame on those learned professors and head of institutions, who feel maintenance of gender ratio is more important than the level of education in their respective colleges.”

Another user, Karthik Subramani, described it as a “stupid rule”.

“Which college would want more men students? They should be thankful that they actually have so many smart, independent women who’ve decided to entrust their education to them, even if they don’t really deserve it,” she wrote.

As if breaking the glass ceiling and fighting patriarchy isn't tough enough, girls in Bengaluru will have to live with watering down their criteria for admissions when compared to boys, if only just to ensure a level playing field.

(With inputs from Nicole Serrao) ​

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