Single IIT, NIT Entrance Exam from 2017 ?

Panel suggests single IIT, NIT entrance exam, aptitude test

HRD Ministry maintains there will be no change in JEE format for 2016

By: Express News Service | New Delhi | Published:November 8, 2015 2:35 am

Three years after the UPA 2 government made sweeping changes to the admission process at top engineering institutes of the country, an expert panel appointed by its successor government has recommended another set of changes, including a single entrance examination for both IITs and NITs, no weightage to school board marks, and a compulsory aptitude test.

The committee, headed by academic Ashok Mishra, has suggested that JEE (Main) and JEE (Advanced) should be merged into a single entrance exam, conducted by the IITs and intended to test a candidate’s knowledge of physics, chemistry and mathematics. Currently, JEE (Main), meant for admission to the NITs, is conducted by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), and JEE (Advanced) by the IITs.

The recommendations were made public on Saturday for further consultation with stakeholders. The HRD Ministry has not announced a timeframe to decide on the matter, but has clarified that JEE 2016 will be conducted in the same way as now, and that the 40 per cent weightage for Class 12 marks for admission to NITs would continue. The only change would be that the top 2 lakh candidates, instead of 1.5 lakh, in JEE (Main) will qualify to sit for JEE (Advanced).

The process of admissions to IITs and NITs was overhauled completely in 2013 after then HRD Minister Kapil Sibal persuaded engineering institutes to give weightage to a candidate’s school performance. This was done to help students focus on their school education, and to wean them away from coaching classes. A review by the institutions three years on has shown that this decision has made little difference to the tuition industry, whose hold on aspirants has, in fact, increased.

The IITs and NITs are in favour of scrapping the weightage to board marks. The Ashok Mishra committee was set up to study this proposal, and examine the feasibility of a single entrance test for IITs and NITs.

The aptitude test suggested by the committee is intended to test candidates’ inclination for science and innovative thinking. Passing the test will be a prerequisite for appearing for JEE, the report states. The aptitude test, designed to weaken the coaching culture, could be offered two or more times in a year, and a National Testing Service should be set up next year to conduct it, the panel has suggested.

Based on their performance in the aptitude test, about 400,000 candidates shall be shortlisted to take the JEE, which will be on the lines of the current JEE (Advanced). Ranks will be issued to 40,000+ students who can seek admission based on a common counseling, it said.

It also suggested that IITs be requested to develop mock JEE exams to help students prepare, and to wean them away from the coaching industry.

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NITs mull IIT-style admissions

New Delhi, Sept. 28: The National Institutes of Technology will this week decide whether to select students through the Joint Entrance Examination (Advanced), bringing their admission process on a par with that of the elite Indian Institutes of Technology.

Currently, the NIT selection process accords 40 per cent weightage to a student’s Class XII board marks and 60 per cent to his scores in the JEE Main, conducted by the Central Board of Secondary Education and taken by over 13 lakh candidates.

But the IITs use the JEE Main just as a filter. They conduct one further exam, the JEE Advanced, which only the top 1.5 lakh performers in the JEE Main are allowed to take.

The IITs prepare their merit list solely on the basis of JEE Advanced scores while also using the eligibility criterion of 75 per cent marks or an 80 percentile score, whichever is lower, in the candidates’ board exams.

Now this will also become NIT practice, barring any possibly different eligibility criterion, if the latest recommendation is endorsed on Thursday by the NIT council, headed by the human resource development minister and made up of the institute directors and chairpersons.

If it does, one advantage will be the simplification of the admission process. The IITs and the NITs now hold common counselling — to prevent students blocking seats — but have to follow different merit lists based on different norms.

Also, the number of candidates allowed to take the JEE Advance will have to be raised to at least 2 lakh, so that the 10,000 IIT seats and 18,000 NIT seats can be filled.

Only about 1.25 lakh of the 1.5 lakh eligible candidates now take the exam. So, if the ceiling is raised to 2 lakh, about 1.6 lakh may take the test, an IIT director reckoned.

The idea of switching to the JEE Advanced came last week from the standing committee of the NIT council, made up of the directors of 10 among the 31 institutes and the heads of higher education regulatory bodies, two of its members told The Telegraph.

A further suggestion was that the NITs join the Central Board of Secondary Education in organising the JEE Main while the IITs continue to conduct the JEE Advanced on their own.

Earlier, an expert panel headed by IIT Bombay director Devang Khakhar had suggested that the NITs scrap the weightage given to Class XII board marks and select students solely on the basis of their JEE Main score.

It made three points: delayed publication of results by some school boards was holding up NIT admissions, and the board weightage had failed in its stated objectives of increasing the intake of rural students and discouraging private coaching.

But the standing committee, while agreeing to drop the board weightage, felt that the NITs and the IITs, both of which enjoy “institution of national importance” status, should have a uniform selection process.

It couldn’t be confirmed whether the standing committee had accepted the Khakhar panel’s suggestion of introducing an eligibility criterion of 55 per cent board marks or 60 percentile, whichever is lower.

A few years ago, the IITs had balked at the idea of a single nationwide engineering test, insisting on a separate JEE Advanced by citing their premier status. They had also resisted, initially, the idea of common counselling.

If the latest proposal is accepted, the IITs’ premier status will be reflected only in the candidates’ preferences apart from their sole right to conduct the JEE Advanced.

Yesterday, the Joint Admission Board, made up of IIT directors, discussed a proposal to make the JEE Advanced a computer-based test from 2017. Two concerns were expressed: whether all rural candidates would be proficient enough with computers and whether two lakh computers can be arranged at one go.

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