The row over the new entrance format for all centrally-funded engineering colleges proposed by Human Resource and Development (HRD) Minister Kapil Sibal, has now reached the Prime Minister's office.
Members from the All India Faculty Federation of the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), who had written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh earlier this month, and met officials of his office on Thursday, will be meeting him today to express their dissent and ask for intervention.
The federation is opposing Mr Sibal's proposal that a common entrance examination be held from 2013 for admission to all centrally-funded engineering institutions. These include the 15 IITs and all the National Institutes of Technology (NITs). As per the new proposal, equal weightage will be given to marks obtained in the Class XII examinations and those of the entrance tests. Mr Sibal had said that the common entrance exam for engineering colleges was aimed at reducing the pressure on students who finish Class 12 and then have to take multiple exams for different engineering colleges.
The federation, which had termed the 'one nation, one test' as a unilateral decision of the HRD ministry, will request the Prime Minister to restore the autonomy of the IITs and allow them to conduct their own tests. They will also demand that IITs be allowed to decide whether to accept, change or reject the new proposal by the HRD ministry. The federation is also of the view that any sweeping changes in the admission process should be given time and the new format should be brought in only after 2014.
The group will also suggest a 'one nation, one board' instead, so that class 12 students from across India can be evaluated by a common board.
Mr Sibal's proposals, which are set to come into force from next year, also say that all aspirants will have to appear for a main test and an advanced test. In what appears to be a complete rollback, the federation is demanding that the advance test should be a 'Subjective Type' test as opposed to the proposal by the ministry which calls for a multiple-type test.
The meeting with the Prime Minister is significant as various bodies of the IITs have opposed these new proposals. IIT Kanpur has already announced that it will conduct its own entrance test from next year. The IIT Delhi senate, which is due to meet on June 21, is likely to follow suit.
Mr Sibal, on his part, has said the decision comes after two years of deliberations with the IITs and is a unanimous one. The minister, who is currently in the US, has said he is willing to talk with dissenting bodies on the issue.