The clash between Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister Kapil Sibal and the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) has intensified over the new one test format instituted by Mr Sibal for engineering schools across the country. A day after IIT Kanpur's decision to hold its own entrance exam and endorse it, IIT Kharagpur's director has also backed the decision saying that the academic control has to be with the institution.
"So far as IIT Kharagpur is concerned, May 2 meeting, the issue was discussed and what emerges that the Joint Entrance Exam (JEE) main and advance the way they are to be conducted is not very different. Academic control must be with IITs that is what we said," said Damodar Acharya, Director, IIT Kharagpur.
In a resolution on Friday, IIT Kanpur's 210-member senate had slammed the proposed common entrance test, and said that the "decision was academically and methodically unsound and in violation of the IIT Act." It had 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 alumni, 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. Somanth Bharti, the head of the alumni body says, "The PIL seeks to restore the autonomy of the IITs." The alumni association is among few other associations which are against the decision of the minister.
The IIT Delhi Senate, due to meet on June 21, is likely to discuss the IIT Kanpur Senate's decision to hold its own entrance exam and endorse it. This would make it the second Senate body to take the bold step. Professor Sanjeev Sanghi, president of the IIT Delhi Faculty Forum said, "There is a strong possibility of the IIT Delhi Senate going with the decision of the Kanpur Senate."
The issue of the new entrance format has many divided. Co-founder of Infosys and Chairman of the Manipal Education Services Pvt Ltd, Mohandas Pai, said, "The IITs should have greater autonomy and the government should not interfere with the academic content of the institution." Mr Pai, though, is of the belief that the IITs need to be expanded in order to enable the enrolment of more students. He also said that more time needed to be spent to evolve on a consensus on the issue of the new test format. "The minister said there is a consensus but there isn't one. So he should meet with everyone concerned in the next one month and then arrive at one".
Mr Sibal on May 28 had announced that from 2013, aspiring candidates for IITs and other central institutes like NITs and IIITs will have to sit under a new format of common entrance test, which will also take the plus two board results into consideration.
He had claimed that it was approved without dissent at a council consists of the IITs, the IIITs and the NITs.
He also said that the proposal had the backing of Senates of four of the seven IITs including Senates of IIT Guwahati, Kharagpur, Madras and Roorkee. As far as Bombay is concerned, they also supported, Mr Sibal had said.