In what could decide the fate of several students aspiring to get into the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), the government will today hold a crucial meeting to on whether there should be a single entrance test for admission to the prestigious institutions.
Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal is pushing for a single Joint Entrance Test (JEE) to replace the current IIT-JEE and AIEEE, two of the most established engineering examinations, for gaining entry into undergraduate technical courses at the IITs. The ministry is keen to implement this format from the next academic year in 2013, something that is being firmly opposed by the faculty federation and most of the IIT senates - decision-making bodies that look into the academics of the institutes.
Hence, the meeting of the joint council of the IITs and the NITs with Mr Sibal today is significant, given the fact that most of the franchises are in favour of retaining the existing format for 2013, saying that the new arrangement can be effected only in 2014.
But the disagreements don't end here. Under the government's proposed new format, a ranking list will be prepared based on Class XII results with 40 per cent weightage to be given after normalisation of marks, 30 per cent to the main test and 30 per cent to the advanced test. The HRD Ministry's stress on school performance is based on the argument that most students don't attach importance to school examinations and only focus on tutorials, which several bright students are not able to afford. The IITs, meanwhile, are insisting that performance in the advanced test should be the only criteria to select and admit candidates to the undergraduate programmes.
The ministry also wants the entrance test to carry objective-type questions, something that the IIT senate disagrees with, favouring the present subjective-questions format.
The IIT Council, which includes the HRD Minister, had met on May 12 during which it is believed to have insisted that the proposed single entrance test may be used as the screening test for admissions to the institutes. It also emerged that the council's views largely over-ruled most of what the IIT senates proposed.