In a university where most colleges have more than half their students coming from outside Delhi, many are waiting for a further easing of restrictions and for certainty that this reopening will continue.

Delhi University reopened its doors for practical classes on Wednesday to a muted response from students, particularly those from outside the city who are choosing to stay away for now.

From Wednesday, the university and its colleges are open for laboratory and practical work for final-year undergraduate and postgraduate students who can also attend these offline. In this phased reopening, the rooms are to be used only at 50% capacity and all theory classes will continue completely online.

In a university where most colleges have more than half their students coming from outside Delhi, many are waiting for a further easing of restrictions and for certainty that this reopening will continue.

“We had a few students come in for the zoology and computer science practicals today. The physics teachers were also present on campus, but the number of students was very low. We had put out a Google Form for students to let us know whether they will be coming to college for their practicals, but the main issue is that 55% of our students are from outside Delhi. While we are prepared for the students to come, those from outside are preferring to wait for classes to go completely offline because it is difficult, with so much uncertainty, to return for only a part of their work and for the rest to be done online. Our hostel capacity will also be less since there can only be one student per room, and we don’t know if PGs are reopening,” said Kirori Mal College principal Vibha Chauhan.

Currently the only ones in the college hostel are its three international students who have been there for around a month now.

At Guru Teg Bahadur Khalsa College, around 60 students reported for practicals on Wednesday. Principal Jaswinder Singh said that while the college’s women’s hostel is ready to accommodate students, not a single student has approached them to avail the facility so far. “I think they are just waiting and watching,” he said. Approximately 40% of the college’s student strength is from outside Delhi.

G Sai Tanishka, a mathematics honours student at Miranda House from Andhra Pradesh, explained that students like her are weighing several considerations. “We are so eager to go back to college but there are many factors for us. Going back to Delhi is not an easy process now, and if cases rise again, I will be stuck in Delhi with no one to help me. For hostellers, it’s easier, but students like me who do not stay in the hostel will have to look for PG accommodation. My classmates and I were discussing this through video call and the consensus is that we have been doing our practicals online for a year now, so perhaps we can continue doing them online for another semester while waiting to see if other things also reopen or the third wave happens,” she said.

At Deshbandhu College, principal Rajiv Aggarwal said: “We had a turnout of around 15% among science and commerce students today, but it was only the first day. We’ll get a better sense of turnout in another 10 days I think. I don’t think it will be that many more students though because 60% of our students are from outside Delhi and they are hesitant to return to the city, and have been making enquiries about how long this reopening will continue for. Since we don’t have a hostel, they will have to make their own living arrangements.”

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