FTII gets fewer applications this year, students cite fee hike as reason

A steep hike in application fees seems to have become a hurdle in the efforts to widen the applicant base for two premier institutes in film and visual arts — the Pune-based Film and Television Institute of India and its Kolkata brethren, the Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute.

For the first time this year, a Joint Entrance Test (JET) was held for admissions to the two institutes, which function under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. In order to attract more applicants, even from smaller centres, the FTII had organised a series of seminars and workshops in more than 15 towns and cities in last month alone. Potential candidates were briefed about the courses and the admission process. At least two new examination centres, one in Srinagar and the other in Port Blair, were introduced for this year’s admission test.

But going by the number of applicants who took the JET on Sunday, the efforts do not seem to have yielded desired results. A total of 5,293 applications were received for admissions to the 11 courses at FTII and 12 courses at the SRFTI. Last year, when the two institutes had conducted separate entrance tests, the FTII had received 4,853 applications. While the SRFTI administration did not share the applicant count for last year, officials said the number would have been around 1,000.

EVEN considering the fact that a number of candidates would have applied to both the institutes last year, thereby increasing the total number of applications, the response this time has been below expectations, especially for the television wing. Last year, the television wing of the FTII, which offers four courses, had received 1,281 applications. This year, despite inviting applications for ten courses (four at the FTII and six electronic and digital media courses at the SRFTI), 891 candidates applied. This, despite the fact that the deadline for registration was extended by a week.

The situation was so grim that some of the JET centres had to be cancelled because of lack of minimum 20 applicants. Officials said although the test was planned at 26 centres, it took place only at 21. In the remaining five, the minimum application count of 20 was not reached.

Although the administration is not admitting it, the fees for the JET could have been a reason for lack of enthusiasm among potential candidates. Till last year, the applicants had to pay Rs 3,500, even if they applied to both the TV and film wings. But this year, an application for either of the two wings cost Rs 4,000 (Rs 1,250 for SC/ST students), though applicants were eligible to be considered by either institute. Those wanting to apply to both television and film courses had to shell out Rs 8,000 (Rs 2,500 for SC/ST candidates). “Many of my friends had planned to apply for both the film and TV courses. As it was our first try, we wanted to explore all the options. However, when the fees were revealed, most of us applied just for the film course as applying for both meant that one had to shell out Rs 8,000, which was not affordable,” said a graduate from Fergusson College.
FTII Director Bhupendra Kainthola, however, said that it would be wrong to say that the response had not been good. “This is the first time in several years that the number of applicants has crossed 5,000. In previous years, students applied separately to each institute. This time, many candidates were common to both the institutes because of the joint test.  So, we were anyway not expecting a drastic increase in the number of applications,” he said.

Kainthola said the cancellation of centres was not a new thing, as it had been done in the past as well. “No aspirant was disadvantaged as he/she was assigned the second choice centre that the student opted for. This year, Srinagar and Port Blair were included for the first time as centres. The response was inadequate. We are hopeful of attracting suitable number of candidates in these centres next year,” he said.

He claimed that the decline in the number of applications received for TV courses this year was also not unusual. “Film courses got better response perhaps because they are equivalent to a Masters degree,” said Kainthola. Debamitra Mitra, Director, SRFTI, said since the TV courses started at the institute just last year, less awareness among students might be a  reason for the low application count. “We started the Electronic and Digital Media (EDM) courses last year and our strength is five students per course for two year diploma. Students are not aware (about these courses). I think, gradually it will evolve and I’m sure next year we will  get much better response,” Mitra said.