NDTV Correspondent | Updated: June 11, 2012 22:28 IST
Mr Sibal has said that the decision to conduct a common entrance examination for the IITs from 2013 was a unanimous one, taken by the IIT Council comprising the governing bodies of the IITs, the National Institutes of Technology and the Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IIITs).
The minister has also said that he is "ready to talk if anyone says that the IITs' autonomy is being jeopardised."
Mr Sibal's assurance comes on a day when the IIT Faculty Federation has questioned the haste with which the government is trying to push through the new test format. The faculty federation is the national body of IIT teachers which is leading the battle against the new format along with IIT senates and the alumni associations. A senate consists largely of professors who are made responsible by the IIT Act of 1961, "for the maintenance of standards of instruction, education and examination."
Representatives of the IIT Faculty Federation have written a letter to the Prime Minister's Office requesting the PM to intervene and correct what they describe as a "unilateral decision" that by-passes the autonomy of the IITs. They also say that the minister's plans will compromise the autonomy of IITs. Members of the federation are scheduled to meet Dr Singh on Tuesday.
IIT Kanpur has already announced that it will conduct its own entrance test from next year. In a resolution on Friday, the institute's 210-member senate slammed the government's proposed format, saying that the "decision was academically and methodically unsound and in violation of the IIT Act." It has also authorised its chairman to constitute a committee with the help of the dean of academic affairs for conducting "JEE 2013 by IIT Kanpur".
The IIT Delhi senate, which is due to meet on June 21, is likely to follow suit. This would make it the second senate body to take the bold step. The alumni body of IIT Delhi, which had threatened to sue Mr Sibal over the decision to conduct a common entrance test, will file a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) this week.
The common entrance exam would have two steps - a "main" and "advanced" stage. The results of Class 12 board exams would also play a role in deciding whether a student gets into an engineering college.
Engineering colleges will use a 40:30:30 formula - with Class 12 board results counting for 40 per cent, and the two stages of the entrance exam counting for 30 per cent each.
However, IIT officials objected and won the right to form their own formula. Starting next year, IITs will give equal weight (50 per cent each) to Class 12 results and to the performance of the candidate in the main exam. 50,000 shortlisted students will then move on to the advanced exam.
Every year, over five lakh students take the entrance exam for IITs - there are 10,000 seats available, including quota seats.
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