The new diktat from the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) has confused 17- year -old Deependra Sharma from Kota, Rajasthan. Sharma who secured 73 per cent in his board exams this year, had this April enrolled into an IIT-JEE coaching centre at Kota at a fee of Rs 80,000. But now he is scared if he qualifies at all to be in the top 20 percentile.
"I am confused and in the wait and watch mode now. I am confident that I will secure admission into the NITs and IIITs. But if the qualifying criterial is above 73 per cent, I will not be able to get into the IITs," said Sharma.
It was decided yesterday that from 2013, students applying to the IITs would have to appear for a Joint Entrance Examination (JEE)-Main. Only the top 1,50,000 among them would be eligible for taking the JEE-Advanced, which would be held a few weeks after the main exam.
For final admission to the IIT based on the JEE-Advanced, a student should be ranked among the top 20 percentile of their respective Class XII board. At present, any student scoring 60 per cent in their Class XII board examination is eligible for a seat in the IITs. There are in total 32 Boards in India having different patterns of examination & evaluation.
"This new formula may help students get inclined to school curriculum. But it will definitely put performance pressure on students and financial pressure on parents. More students will go for private tuition to secure good marks in board exams to qualify for the IITs. The coaching culture will also be in place to prepare students for competitive examination," said Pramod Maheshwari, CEO, Career Point Infosystems, Kota.
Maheshwari added that theoretically, the argument of IITs that this new formula will make students more inclined towards school curriculum, is believable. But practically, it is not a workable.
"If you look at the quality of education in schools, it is not up to the mark to even pass the board examination. So the tuition market for 12th class will grow significantly. If earlier students were targeting to score only 60 per cent marks in board examination, they will now have to up their target. This will promote the coaching culture further," he said.
He added that the only positive outcome of this diktat is that now admission to the IITs will definitely encourage mediocre students to pursue other dreams. "This proposal will give a positive direction to the society to avoid chasing unrealistic dreams of joining the IITs," said Maheshwari.
The IITs are of course happy. VG Idichandy, professor at department of ocean engineering at IIT-Madras, which had suggested the earlier formula of adding percentage of the board exam to the entrance process said, "Our main contention was that school results should be reflected in the admission. Since some IITs did not agree to the earlier formula, this compromise formula is the best possible solution. Students will not be affected since most of the students taking IIT-JEE do belong to the top few percentile of their board. It will help students take school examinations seriously."
Idichandy added that with the top 150,000 students from JEE main who will be allowed to appear for the advanced exam, it will become easier for the IITs to conduct the examination.
Over 5 lakh students appeared for the IIT-JEE this year. IITs have been maintaining that dealing with such huge number of applications and answer sheets, is a herculean task. The new process will ease the pressure on IITs too, they say.
In this process however, IITs, say coaching institutes, have increased the pressure and stress on students.
Praveen Tyagi, Managing Director, IITian's Pace explained that this would lead to more stress for the students.
"Now a new insecurity will arise in the mind of students. They would not want to take any chances with their board examination. Now they would have to forcibly attend the school. If the quality of teaching was good at our schools, students would have never opted for coaching classes," he said. Tyagi also expressed concerns about the government not consulting students and parents before making the decision.
"The biggest beneficiaries of this move will be coaching institutes like us," Tyagi added.
RL Trikha, Director, FIITJEE however, raises a valid point--that this process may disqualify some genuine students interested in engineering education.
"Although the system appears to be fair and will help the IITs get the creme-de-la-creme, some genuine students may be disqualified. There may be some very good students with strong concepts; analytical ability but not very good board marks. Such students may be deprived of admission to the IITs. All thanks to this change," added Trikha.
Even some IIT professors agree. "This change will have a very serious impact which the government will realise later. In this process, we stand to lose good talent from rural areas. How will poor students from rural areas who do not go to any school qualify in the top 20 percentile? They are good and they study on their own," said a professor from IIT Delhi.
Industry players say though the new system ensures the IIT brand remains intact, it may deprive an IIT qualification to some deserving students.
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