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All of the leading educational institutes have 60% of their seats reserved for students of backward castes. It is a fairly common expression and a sad fact in India.

What would be an alternative to the word "seat" in this sentence? Even though it is very popular here, I am sure it has been used incorrectly because I did not find any meaning for the word "seat" which could be used over here.

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'Seat' is very understandable but not the first word that eould be expected in BrE or AmE. Which castes are the 'backwards' ones? –  Mitch Dec 27 '12 at 13:18
    
@Mitch the ones that would be considered to be untouchable and slave 100 years back. –  Dude Dec 27 '12 at 13:20
    
@Mitch yes I know it is common in AmE or BrE, that is why I want to its alternative –  Dude Dec 27 '12 at 13:21
    
I think seat is OK for this in AmE. Here is a recent news story: "Harvard interviewed about 2,200 candidates and accepted about 1,100 to fill its 905-910 available seats." –  GEdgar Dec 27 '12 at 13:45
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I'd say seats would be understood, but in Aus, you'd find it more common to hear places –  tanantish Dec 27 '12 at 15:55
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5 Answers

Higher Education institutions offer places in the UK. It may be the same in other regions.

I might prefer lower caste for backward cast but that wasn't part of the question.

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I do agree that saying ‘backward’ is quite offensive. But now that I look at it, is using cast for caste even normal? –  tchrist Dec 27 '12 at 13:03
    
Keep in mind that we're dealing with sensitive/PC-inflected terminology in another culture. India appears to have adopted "backward" to get away from "lower". When that becomes exhausted as a euphemism, they'll cycle to another one - just like we do, but in a different sequence. –  StoneyB Dec 27 '12 at 13:24
    
@StoneyB Yes, but this is essentially "translating" from Indian English into another dialect, so a regional use of "backward" may also need to be changed, just as "seat" needs to be. –  Andrew Leach Dec 27 '12 at 13:36
    
Lower income families surely is a more socially acceptable phrase than lower caste? I don't like that phrase at all. –  spiceyokooko Dec 27 '12 at 13:45
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@spiceyokooko Indian English appears to use "backward" in much the same way contemporary US English uses "disadvantaged". I expect entirely new terms in both by 2025. –  StoneyB Dec 27 '12 at 14:20
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You might say that they reserve 60% of their openings or positions to members of the lower classes.

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I would suggest enrollments, or perhaps admissions.

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All of the leading educational institutes have 60% of their quotas reserved for students of backward castes.

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Over here in Aus you might also hear intake being used to refer to the overall group/period/people entering university so you could say that 60% of the institution's target intake is reserved?

Sample usage : RMIT's mid-year intake or Monash's 2005 key dates (Fri 31, Dec 2004 is the last day of the Feb intake).

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