“ a compromise formula which includes a proposal to take top 20% students based on percentile ranking of respective boards for preparing the merit list”

How meaningless is this solution ?. Higher education in India will become the domain of the school toppers and Children of affluent parents and we wonder why half a million students leave India to study undergraduate courses overseas. Children who will never return to a country that shunned them.

Is this is what we call inclusive in RTE ?.

God Save India

Inclusive education does not mean that everyone must enter, or pass out from, an IIT. It only means that if you wanted to, you could have a shot at it. The child labourer is excluded because she can never dream of entering an IIT; she may absolutely hate IIT, but not trying to join an IIT should be her decision. Even if there is only one IIT train, every child must have access to the platform where the train comes. Of course, not everyone will get on to the train but everyone knows what to do to have a shot at the train. This is called inclusion in education. Everyone must go to school till class 12; those who work hard, and are willing to work harder still, will join an IIT. Others will, by choice, decide not to work that hard and become economists.

Shubhashis Gangopadhyay

All children are born equal and mindless politicians are trying to grade the children and youth of the nation and create a new Brahamanical Caste system in Education, which is pandering to the neo rich who can afford to send their children to elite private schools and Coaching schools.

"HRD Ministry of India wants to build castles of higher education on the bamboo scaffoldings of its schools" ~ Satish Jha

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Sunday, January 11, 2015

514 - China rising, India falling: IITs are an illustrative example of the dumbing down of Indian universities - TNN Blogs

January 6, 2015, 12:00 AM IST Asit K Biswas in TOI Edit Page | Edit Page, India | TOI

Last September, Indian Institute of Technology, Bhubaneswar, gave me an honorary Doctor of Science degree. When the honour was conferred President Pranab Mukherjee, in his capacity as visitor to the institute, lamented that no Indian university is now ranked among the top 200 in the world even though historically the country had excellent educational universities like Takshashila and Nalanda.

President Mukherjee’s contention raises two serious issues. First, how relevant are university ranking processes and do these give a fair indication of the quality and appropriateness of education in a rapidly changing world? Second, should Indian universities be concerned that not even one is in the top 200?
There are now three ranking systems. The oldest one is Academic Ranking of World Universities, popularly known as Shanghai rankings because it was started by Shanghai Jiao Tong University in 2003. It is updated biannually.

The Times Higher Education (THE) World Education Ranking started in 2004 in collaboration with Quacquarelli Symonds (QS). In 2010 QS went its own way with its own ranking methodology whose citation data base is provided by Thomson Reuters. The three ranking systems provide different results because criteria used as well as their relative weights differ. Many of the criteria are subjective and dependent on views of stakeholders sampled. With different stakeholders, the results could be very different.

To be ranked, universities have to continually fill up numerous surveys from the three ranking organisations. How reliable is self-reporting when results have high stakes as there are considerable economic and reputational consequences?

University rankings have become an important tool to attract high-quality staff, good students and serious funding. For administrators, politicians, government officials, funding agencies and media, rankings are important. Thus, temptation to manipulate data is quite significant. Providing regular global rankings data have become a fiercely competitive, lucrative and booming market. The way rankings are done at present, the roles of poachers and gamekeepers have become blurred.

No matter how the three ranking systems are assessed, they do not consider how good or relevant teaching quality is. Sadly, there is no indication that the system is likely to change in the near future because universities that rank within the first 200 simply refuse to provide such information. Not surprisingly, they would like to maintain the status quo since it serves their agenda well.

From my perspective, even though not a single Indian university is within the Global 200, i am not overtly worried about this fact so long as they can provide quality education to prepare the students for a rapidly changing world. Sadly, this is not happening.

The country made a good beginning as early as September 1944 when it was announced that an ‘Indian MIT’ would be set up. Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, was conceived in the image of MIT and started functioning in 1951. When i joined this institution as a student, in 1954, it truly had an all-India character, with the best faculty and students available. When the second IIT was established in Kanpur a large number of faculty left Kharagpur, including M S Muthana who became director of IIT Kanpur. Over the years, as the number of IITs proliferated, these have become provincial institutions.
Until recently, admissions to IITs were strictly on the basis of quality. IITs became a respected global brand because they selected students who were the best in India. With the proliferation of IITs and quota system for admission, the overall quality of future IIT graduates is bound to decline.

Sadly, for political expediency, India does not have a single MIT as in the United States, but at least 21 IITs in the foreseeable future. Not surprisingly, in 2014, early results showed that during the first phase only 9,061 of 9,711 seats were filled. There is still high demand for the first five IITs (Kharagpur, Kanpur, Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai) but not for the newer ones.

This is also reflected in quality and retention of staff. Overall, in IITs nearly 30% of faculty positions cannot be filled because of lack of quality staff. Indian politicians, for the sake of short-term gains, have killed the goose that laid golden eggs!

Compare this with Chinese policy. In 1998, the Chinese government decided to support only nine of their 2,000 universities to become world class. The results have been truly spectacular. China is now supporting a few universities at a much higher level so that these become globally some of the best. This does not mean research and teaching facilities are not supported at other universities but only that the elite universities are supported at a much higher level. Other countries like Germany have followed similarly successful policies. Current Indian policies are unlikely to produce world-class universities.

Irrespective of whether any Indian university is ranked within the first 200 of the world, the quality of education has to be improved significantly so that graduates receive the skills they need for employment. If India wants to have elite global universities it has to select a few that have the necessary potential and comparative advantage, then support them consistently over the long term with higher funding and less bureaucratic intervention.

DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author's own.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

513 - Kakodkar model rejected by IIT directors

23 September 2013 

IIT directors are against Anil Kakodkar's model that seeks to reduce the IITs' reliance on government funding

IIT directors are against Anil Kakodkar's recommendations and have told the HRD ministry that such a model will "strongly constrain the future growth of the IITs". Nuclear scientist Anil Kakodkar's model suggests that IITs' reliance on government funding must be curtailed.While this may assure greater financial autonomy to IIT’s, the directors do not seem to agree
The IIT directors have pointed out that IITs are not just about teaching but are "strategic assets of the nation". They thus summed up their desire to remain funded by the government. This matter will be taken up at the IIT council meeting in September 16. The IIT directors have spoken on the Kakodakar Committee's recommendations on governance, autonomy and finances saying that "the proposed model is not consistent with the funding pattern of any reputed public research university". "
The IITs reiterated that in order to attain an international profile there will be massive expenditure. Expenses will rise from the current rate and this gap must be filled by the Government and not student fees and overheads.
The changes that the Kakodkar Committee desires will extend greater financial autonomy to IITs. The committee’s counsel was put forward at the IIT council meeting in January this year. The IIT directors had asked for time to form a consensus on the recommendations.
The IIT directors' note makes their stand clear while stating "It may be noted that no reputed public research university in the world is financially self-sustaining and in most cases the universities are considerably subsidised by public funds ... IITs cannot progress without such government support. It is suggested that IITs may be treated as strategic assets of the nation, rather than just teaching institutes, since the institutes do much more than education,".
The IIT directors have put their weight behind their old proposal to fund an IIT's operational expenses based on a Block Grant Scheme with the amount proportionate to the number of students enrolled. They gave the examples of public funded varsities like the National University of Singapore and Beijing's Tsinghua University which have improved due to their mode of financial support.

Monday, August 26, 2013

512 - Admission policy unchanged as IITs reject govt proposal - DNA

Admission policy unchanged as IITs reject govt proposal
Monday, Aug 26, 2013, 7:58 IST | Place: New Delhi | Agency: DNA

The Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) have shot down the government’s proposal to consider changes in the admission rules for next year.

On Sunday, the country’s premier engineering schools, at a meeting of its Joint Admissions Board (JAB) — the top admissions body of the IITs — decided that they will not entertain any proposal for change in the top-20-percentile eligibility criterion for the moment. In other words, the admission norms and the paper pattern of JEE – Advance will remain the same next year.

As per the percentile criterion, which was introduced just this year, an aspirant can be eligible for admission to an IIT if one, in addition to having qualified JEE-Advance, is among the top 20 percentile candidates of one’s respective school board results.

HRD ministry’s suggestion for a review of this criterion came at a meeting called by HRD minister MM Pallam Raju in the second week of August after 79 aspirants were denied admission to the IITs despite getting initial offer as they did not meet the percentile cut-off marks of their respective schools boards.
Many of such aggrieved students were from Andhra Pradesh, who had cleared the entrance test but missed the 92% cut-off marks of Andhra Boards results by just one per cent.

The government’s proposal suggested that the top-20-percentile criterion could carry a rider from next year that a candidate who has cleared JEE-Advance will be eligible for admission if he/she is either in the top 20 percentile of the Class XII board examination or has secured at least 80% in the Boards exams, which ever is lower.

But the IITs, which have always been skeptical of government intervention and protective of their autonomy, have shot down the idea. “Officials and directors felt that we can’t decide to change an admission criterion without proper analysis. If some (school) boards are very liberal in marking their students, then what can we do?,”said a senior IIT official, who was present during the JAB meeting, referring to southern state boards where students tend to score very high marks. “We must complete at least two admission cycles before considering any changes,” he added.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

511 - More seats = dilution?

While there have been many statements about the dilution of the brand value of the coveted Indian Institutes of Technology due to increase in number, on the other hand the country needs more such institutions to elevate India’s higher education situation. Where can one find the balance?

Choose the correct option:  

1. If we have something that’s really nice, we should make some more, so that everyone has a chance to get that nice thing. 

2. If we have something that’s really nice, we should not have more of it, since the more you will have, the lesser will be the value. 


Well, in this case, the ‘nice thing’ we are talking about is education at the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs). Since the initial five institutes were not sufficient to provide great education to the burgeoning population, many more were set up, so that a higher number of students would have the opportunity to get an education at the coveted IITs. Since then, all the new institutes have been offered is flak.

The latest comment comes from Anand Kumar, director of the famous Patna-based Super 30 programme, which offers free coaching to 30 economically disadvantaged students to crack the IIT entrance exams. According to him, the IITs are losing brand value with the continued increase in number of institutes and seats. Well, one must think that Kumar has a point, since the success of his venture can be estimated by the information that all of his students got selected to IIT programmes consecutively from 2008 to 2011.

While IITians like Mohit Goel, who runs the famous Yukti Education Services for training for the IIT entrance opine that there is such a phase of preferential treatment towards the existing IITs, it is a temporary one, and the degree will still be sought after. “The situation is such that it creates a sort of hierarchy among the IITs itself. 

Aspirants prefer the five existing institutes to the new ones. Once Guwahati and Roorkee started doing well, they joined the ranks of the older institutes and the new ones are the ‘less preferred ones. The rankings of the established ones are always very high and it will be a Herculean task for the new ones to catch up quickly,” he says. Goel adds that “once an IITian, always an IITian, so there is no question of losing brand value!

IIT aspirant Neeraj Bhagat is of the opinion that if any great organisation fears dilution of brand value, there would be no branches set up! Among educational institutions, he cites the examples of INSEAD, a world renowned management institute, which started with a campus in France, but now has campuses in Singapore and Abu Dhabi. “Why shouldn’t the government think of the aspirations of the increasing student population and cater to the needs by setting up new campuses? It gives a student a better chance to score a seat to a good education,” he says.

Considering the admission ratios, there is no way that any of the IITs will see a shortage of applicants. It is just a matter of time that the new institutes catch up. Says IITian Kedar Shiroor “This gives many more smart people the opportunity to graduate from an IIT. With the market growing by the day and brain drain becoming less of an issue, more IITs will help improve the quality of education.” He leaves us with a bit of food for thought: “With our growing population, why have only a few premier engineering schools for the worry of losing brand value?”

Saturday, August 10, 2013

510 - IIT JEE success skewed in favour of urban, high-income students

Mihika Basu : Mumbai, Thu Aug 08 2013, 04:21 hrs

Studetns from urban areas, higher-income families and those with access to coaching enjoyed significantly greater success in the 2012 joint entrance examination (JEE) for IITs, reveals a detailed internal analysis by the institutes.

The candidates who registered for JEE, as well as those who qualified, were concentrated in a few big cities. In fact, more than half the candidates who qualified came from just 11 cities. Of the 5,06,484 students registered for JEE in 2012, 24,112 qualified.

Among qualified candidates in all categories, the success rate (compared to the total who registered) was 5.8 per cent for city students, 4.2 per cent for those from towns and 2.7 per cent for those from villages. An analysis of the success ratio of those who took admission shows city students at 3.99 per cent, followed by 2.31 per cent from towns and a meagre 1.27 per cent from villages.

If general category alone were considered, the figures for those offered admission were 61 per cent for cities, 27 per cent for towns and 12 per cent for villages. "Overall, city candidates did better as against 51 per cent (of the) registration they could get 61 per cent of the total admission offers," the internal report by the IITs says.

In income levels, those falling in the highest income slab, or over Rs 4.5 lakh a year, showed the highest success ratio at 10.3 per cent, all categories considered. This fell progressively with income. Students in the middle income age group — Rs 1 lakh to Rs 4.5 lakh — had a success ratio of 4.8 per cent and those from families earning less than Rs 1 lakh had a success ratio of a meagre 2.6 per cent. That, however, can be explained to some extent by the fact that almost 85 per cent of those who registered belonged to the middle and lower income categories.

In fact, among all the categories, general category candidates from the highest income group had the highest success rate. While 81.49 per cent of this category students, with parental income above Rs 4.5 lakh, qualified JEE last year, 38.01 per cent with parental income less than Rs 1 lakh qualified.
Incidentally, parents' occupation too appeared to have had an impact on a candidate's performance. "Candidates whose parents are in medical and engineering professions performed slightly better than other candidates. Candidates whose parents are in agriculture or in defence services have not been able to perform as well as the others," the report says.

One in five registered students took extra help, most probably some sort of coaching, says the report, but they made up about half of the successful candidates. "More than two-fold increase in their success rate over other students, who only did self-study, is a clear indication of the effect of extra help (probably professional coaching). Further analysis also supports this assertion. While self-study students can hold their own in zones like Bombay and Madras and to a slightly lesser extent in Delhi, they could not perform well in Guwahati, Kanpur, Roorkee and Kharagpur zones. It hints at availability of better conditions of self-study in Bombay, Madras and Delhi zones," the report says.

The much-debated new JEE Main and JEE Advanced tests were aimed at reducing multiplicity of entrance tests and restricting coaching centres' hold on the system.

The trend is similar across various categories. In the IITs, 27 per cent seats are reserved for Other Backward Classes (OBCs, non-creamy layer), 15 per cent for Scheduled Castes (SCs) and 7.5 per cent for Scheduled Tribes (STs).

If 35.24 per cent and 11.43 per cent of the OBC candidates from cities and towns respectively got admission in IITs last year, a meagre 3.07 per cent who did so came from villages. Even among SC candidates, the figures tilt towards those from urban areas — 12.96 per cent from cities and 9.66 per cent from towns got admission as compared to 5 per cent from villages.

Among ST candidates, only 2.59 per cent from villages managed to get into the IITs, as compared to 8.43 per cent from cities and 4.04 per cent from towns.
Among boards, general candidates seemed to prefer CBSE. About two-third of all registrations and three-fourth of qualified candidates studied CBSE. "OBCs on the other hand seem to prefer state boards as they make up more than one-third of registered as well as qualified candidates from the state boards. The respective numbers for them in CBSE drops to about one-fifth. SC and STs do not show any major change in shares in both the boards," the report says.
Among income slabs, the difference is not so significant when it comes to SC candidates — 11.35 per cent students with parental income above Rs 4.5 lakh qualified as compared to 17.56 per cent with parental income less than Rs 1 lakh.

Among OBC category candidates from the non-creamy layer (NCL), there is a deviation from the general trend. Around 4.64 per cent candidates with parental income above Rs 4.5 lakh, 22.97 per cent with parental income between Rs 1 lakh and Rs 4.5 lakh, and 38.01 per cent with income below Rs 1 lakh qualified the test.

"The proportion of OBC (NCL) candidates, whose parental income is below 1 lakh, relative to those with income between 1 and 4.5 lakh, is disproportionately high compared to all the other categories," the report says.

Friday, July 26, 2013

509 - Won't change our stand, IIT-Delhi director says - TOI

Akshaya Mukul, TNN Jul 25, 2013, 07.02AM IST

TOI's Akshaya Mukul spoke to R V Shevgaonkar, director, IIT-Delhi . 


Did the JEE (Main) and JEE (Advanced) serve the purpose of a single entrance examination?
IITs never agreed to a single entrance test. All along, ours was a different system from AIEEE. We've always maintained that logical reasoning can't be tested through an objective test but through subjective questions. We did not want to mix Class XII results with the JEE (Advanced) score. So, we agreed to give weightage only to the top 20 percentile of each board. Intellect is equally distributed and the Class XII marks reflect board marks only, not intellect.

Seventy-nine students who could've got IIT seats have been turned away because the Boards got the 20 percentile calculations wrong. What went wrong?
There is a mistake in understanding . The Boards did the calculation voluntarily. On top of that, they calculated it on the basis of those who appeared instead of those who passed the Class XII examination . Right from the beginning , the JEE website has been saying 20 percentile has to be on the basis of those who passed the test. So we had to recalculate.

What happens to students who have lost out?
It is unfortunate. But nothing can be done now.

You met with the HRD minister also on this.
Yes. But we'll not change our stand. If we do anything now it'd be seen as being subjective.

Do we see any changes from next year?
We can look into the 20 percentile criterion as well as number of students who can appear for JEE (Advanced).

What about single exam?

Personally, I think it would not work. The example being given is of SAT/GRE. But these tests are about score, not ranking . In an entrance examination , ranking is everything.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

508 - IIT (Ab)Normalization: How they got it wrong - TOI

Akshaya Mukul, TNN | Jul 25, 2013, 06.57 AM IST

Since June, it’s been chaos. The single exam dream went awry. Students couldn’t crack the normalization formula till the JEE (Main) scores came.

Kapil Sibal wanted his stint as HRD minister to be memorable. He wanted to leave behind an enduring legacy. He proposed sweeping changes in the education system. 

In the nearly three-and-half years he was at the helm, the most effective change he undertook was confined to examinations: The CBSE Class X board examination was made optional. Then, after lengthy deliberations, a single examination for engineering was mooted.

Students, who spent their summers taking one entrance test after another, lapped up the idea. By putting the emphasis on the Class XII results, the government wanted to restrict the coaching centres' hold on the system. But there were enough detractors too.

States, though supportive, weren't willing to yield ground. Only Gujarat and Nagaland agreed. Haryana and Uttarakhand were already part of the earlier All India Engineering Entrance Examination and went along. The IITs, fearing a drop in quality, weren't keen to be integrated with a larger system. A complicated normalization process was devised to bring all boards on a par. The idea was to factor in Class XII result with JEE (Main) scores for admissions to NITs and central government technical institutes.

The IITs still had their say. Only 1.5 lakh of those who cleared JEE (Main) could take JEE (Advanced) for IIT admissions . Of these, only 1.2 lakh finally appeared. A high JEE (Advanced) score wasn't enough for an IIT seat. The extra factor was the stress on the Class XII result. A student had to be in the top 20 percentile of his/her Board result. Instead of a single examination, a complicated two-tier system was created in a rush.

Since June, it's been chaos. The single exam dream went awry. Students couldn't crack the normalization formula till the JEE (Main) scores came. Those with high JEE (Main) marks and reasonably high Class XII scores - by today's standard 90% isn't a good enough Boards score - found their ranks had slipped. Litigations began.

The 20 percentile factor became contentious because Boards got their calculations wrong. They calculated it on the basis of total students who had taken the state's Class XII exams, whereas it had to be on the basis of the number of students who had passed. Many like Nishant (see interview) suffered . Cut-off percentages jumped, especially in Andhra Pradesh, barring 79 students from a possible IIT seat. IITDelhi director R V Shevgaonkar said the Boards overstepped their brief. "It's unfortunate but nothing can be done."

CBSE chairman Vineet Joshi said the confusion was because it was the first year. Stress on Boards marks had thrown up interesting results, he added. "Preliminary analysis of data reveals this year NITs will have a bigger representation of women and those from rural and semi-rural backgrounds ." The new system should continue . "But genuine concerns should be addressed."

Joshi hopes from next year more states would join in. Joshi's eventual dream: A single examination that can be taken more than once in a year to improve scores.

Shevgaonkar, though not critical of normalization, favours IITs having their own entrance test. But the confusion and tears of students being brushed aside as teething problems could have been avoided with transparency and deliberation.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

507 - JEE changes made in a hurry: IITs - Business Standard

Kalpana Pathak & M Saraswathy  |  Mumbai  July 17, 2013 Last Updated at 21:50 IST

IIT alumni association to protest demanding restoration of the original examination system

The Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) is yet to decide on reviewing the changes in the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) joint entrance examination (JEE), but the IITs have given their verdict - the changes have been brought about in a hurry and have complicated the examination.

"We had been, since the beginning, suggesting this new pattern should be implemented from 2014, but to no avail. Though incorporating board marks for admission to IITs is a good move, the new format was implemented in a hurry, without much thought," said Gautam Barua, director, IIT-Guwahati.

"The new IIT JEE has complicated the entire admission process," said Devang Khakhar, director, IIT-Bombay.

Last year, then MHRD minister Kapil Sibal had cleared the proposal to hold the JEE in two parts-main and advanced. Students applying to the IITs have to appear for JEE-main. Of these students, only the top 1,50,000 are eligible for JEE-advanced. For final admission to the 16 IITs, based on JEE-advanced, a student has to be among the top 20 percentile in his respective standard-XII board.

While the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) conducts JEE-main, JEE-advanced is conducted by IIT-Delhi.

Coaching institutes have said the new process of normalisation has made it difficult for deserving students to qualify. The director of a Kota-based coaching institute said, "If a student from Tripura who secured 58 per cent marks in board exams is selected, while one from Andhra Pradesh with 80 per cent isn't, there could be flaws in the system."

"We need to discuss with Indian Statistical Institute (which had prepared the formula for normalisation) experts how real is the issue and whether it a problem on a larger scale. Only after such an analysis can any change be proposed in the process," said a senior IIT official.

Meanwhile, members of the IIT alumni associations are set to go on an agitation later this month to protest against the new system. Somnath Bharti, ex-president of IIT-Delhi Alumni Association and a Supreme Court lawyer, said the matter was sub judice. "We are looking at engaging directly with ministry officials on this issue. It is very unfortunate that these issues have cropped up," he said.

MHRD officials said the Andhra Pradesh government had taken up the issue in a high court.

'State boards interpreted 20% rule differently'
At a meeting between Human Resource Development Minister Pallam Raju and IIT officials on Wednesday, it was said in the case of the new JEE norms, while the IITs had meant the 20 percentile rule was applicable for students clearing JEE-advanced, state boards had taken it as applicable to 20 per cent of the students appearing for JEE-main.

"The method of calculation of the top 20 percentile had been clearly stated by us from day one. Therefore, we presented this to the minister…we wouldn't make any change to it. However, state boards used a different formula for normalisation and this resulted in the confusion," said a senior IIT official who attended the meeting. It was also decided IITs would draw up a list of students affected by the new rule and hold another meeting to address the issue.

Normalisation, as used in the Indian context, is a process for ensuring students are neither advantaged nor disadvantaged by the difficulty of exams they do for the Boards. This process is used in other countries with similar issues as in India

Normalisation process requires one to know the following

Percentile score: Percentile score of a candidate in a Board or JEE (Main) will reflect what percentage of candidates have scored below that candidate in that Board or JEE (Main) Examination

A percentile score is the value of below which a certain per cent of observations fall. For example, the 20th percentile is the value (or score) below which 20 per cent of the observations may be found

Example: Suppose we have 13,711 candidates in a Board, and a candidate who's score is 60% of Board marks has 6,865 candidates below him; his percentile score will be calculated as follows

Percentile score for 60% of Board marks: 6,865/13,711 x 100

506 - Govt accepts discrepancy in IIT admission process

Govt accepts discrepancy in IIT admission process

Many state boards did not calculate the 20 percentile according to the formula prescribed by IIT-Delhi

First Published: Wed, Jul 17 2013. 11 56 PM IST

IIT-Delhi is the organizing IIT for the JEE Advanced, the second part of the two-tier common engineering admission test. 
Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint

The central government said on Wednesday that discrepancies in admissions to the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) were due to a miscalculation by various school boards.

Human resource development (HRD)minister M. M. Pallam Raju said after a review meeting with senior officials of the ministry and IITs that many state boards didn’t calculate the 20 percentile according to the formula prescribed by IIT-Delhi, the organizing IIT for the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) Advanced, the second part of the two-tier common engineering admission test.
It wasn’t immediately clear what would happen to these students, some of whom have filed cases in various courts across the country.

On 12 July, the Supreme Court stayed proceedings in a case related to this in the Andhra Pradesh high court and said it would hear the matter.

While IIT-Delhi had said the percentile should be based on the number of students passing the school-leaving examination, several boards including that of Andhra Pradesh based it on the number of students who appeared for the board examination, Raju told reporters.

Raju said he doesn’t have the exact numbers for the students who missed out due to this.

The IITs said they excluded 79 students who did not make the cut despite holding top ranks in the JEE Advanced. The Madras zone that includes Andhra Pradesh, had 35 affected students, followed by 19 from Kharagpur zone and 14 from Kanpur zone.

“We have gone by the rule. It was clear from last year that the percentile will be calculated on successful candidates of respective boards. The percentile calculation was supposed to be done by the COBSE (Council of Boards of School Education) but several boards calculated it on their own,” said H.C. Gupta, the professor in-charge of the JEE-Advanced.

Gupta said most boards had miscalculated the percentile, indicating that the number of aggrieved students could rise.

He said Andhra Pradesh was the first to issue the percentile cut off.
Out of a total 530 marks in the Class 12 board exam, the top 20 percentile cut off was set at 476 marks for the general category. This should have been 487, he said.

Raju said that a related controversy over the normalization of different school boards for admission to all central government-funded engineering schools except IITs could not be discussed on Wednesday as the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) chairman was travelling to attend a court case.
CBSE was in charge of the normalization process for admission to 30 National Institutes of Technology (NITs), Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IIITs) and other top schools.

Scores of parents and aggrieved students have approached high courts and the Supreme Court to stay the admission process based on the normalization, saying that at least 25,000 students have missed out on admission to top engineering schools.

The Supreme Court said last week that admission to engineering schools would be subject to its eventual ruling on a petition challenging the process, but refused to stay the admissions.

CBSE chairman Vineet Joshi could not be reached despite several calls to his mobile phone but an HRD ministry official said the government is in favour of clubbing all the cases, related to normalization as well as admission to the IITs, to be heard in the Supreme Court.

The official, who did not want to be named, also said that Andhra Pradesh chief minister Kiran Kumar Reddy had reached out to Raju on the issue.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

505 - AP CM for JEE as sole criteria for admissions - Business Standard

BS Reporter  |  Hyderabad  July 16, 2013 Last Updated at 20:19 IST

His appeal comes after several AP students who got good ranks in JEE failed to get admissions due to weightage being given to marks secured in Class 12

Chief minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy requested the Ministry of Human Resource Development to make JEE as the sole criteria for admissions into the National Institutes of Technology (NITs) and the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs).

His appeal comes after several AP students who got good ranks in the joint engineering entrance (JEE) failed to secure admissions in these institutes owing to the weightage being given to the marks secured in Class 12 by the candidates, an official statement said here on Tuesday.

A 40 per cent weightage is being given to the marks secured by the students in Class 12 for admission to the NITs and 20 per cent for the same when it comes to IIT admissions.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

504 - win factors scuttle engineering joint admissions

Twin factors scuttle engineering joint admissions 


New Delhi, July 15: Tardy preparations and the fear of courtroom reverses prompted the Indian Institutes of Technology and the National Institutes of Technology to drop their plan to have joint seat allocations from this year.

Joint allocation would have reduced vacancies at either set of institutions, but the IITs backed out and began their own selection process on July 2.

H.C. Gupta, chairman of the exam through which the IITs admit students, cited two reasons.

One, the failure to test software developed for joint seat allocation. Two, the slew of court cases challenging the admission reforms introduced this year for the NITs — if successful, they would have jeopardised IIT admissions too in case of joint selection.

The IIT selections were wrapped up today. Counselling is now on at the NITs after the Supreme Court last week refused to stay admissions while hearing a case against the selection criteria adopted.

Earlier, the Union human resource development ministry had set up a Joint Seat Allotment Committee under an IIT Delhi professor, G.B. Reddy, to handle the common admission process.

Reddy said that under the plan, students who made it to both the IIT and NIT merit lists would have had to choose any one of the two.

This would have stopped students from blocking seats in both sets of tech schools and quitting one at the end of the separate admission processes — a practice that left the IITs with over 300 vacancies last year. The NITs had a similar number of vacancies too.

An IIT teacher said a common admission process would also have saved time. Traditionally, the NITs start their selection process shortly after the IITs do, and many candidates wait for both to finish before deciding where to study.

The human resource development ministry had asked the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing to prepare the new software for the joint seat allocation.

The centre was to open a new website to publish the seat allocations (earlier, the IIT and NIT allocations were posted on different websites). The website hasn’t been opened.

Despite efforts, no comments could be obtained from the centre’s director-general, Rajat Moona.

From this year, the admission processes at the IITs and the NITs have undergone several changes, from the eligibility criteria to the entrance tests.

A two-phase entrance exam, made up of the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) Main and the JEE Advanced, has replaced the IIT-JEE and the All India Engineering Entrance Examination.

The NITs are admitting students on the basis of a 60:40 weightage given to their JEE Main scores and board marks, the latter “normalised” to remove the discrepancies in evaluation between the various higher secondary boards.

For the IITs, the eligibility criterion for candidates is a place among the top 20 percentile rankers from their board. Eligible candidates are admitted solely on the basis of their JEE Advanced score.

Many students have challenged the NIT criteria in various courts, some contesting the policy of giving weightage to board marks and some questioning the normalisation process.

503 - JEE admission norms may be re-examined - Live Mint

HRD ministry may look into matter after complaints from students and cases before Supreme Court, other courts

First Published: Tue, Jul 16 2013. 12 24 AM IST

The process for admission to NITs and IITs has been criticized by students, academics and experts. Photo: Hemant Mishra/Mint
Updated: Tue, Jul 16 2013. 12 25 AM IST

New Delhi: The government may revisit and review the contentious Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) admission process for all central government-funded engineering schools other than the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), following complaints from students and cases before the Supreme Court and other courts.

Two government officials said the human resource development (HRD) ministry may do this because of the cases and also due to the possible politicization of the engineering admission process in Andhra Pradesh, the state the current Union HRD minister M.M. Pallam Raju hails from, and the one that has seen the most complaints.

The Supreme Court ruled last week that admissions to engineering schools would be subject to its eventual ruling on a petition challenging the process, but refused to stay the admissions.

The new format, part of an effort aimed at streamlining admissions and ensuring that students seeking admission to the central government-funded top engineering and technology schools don’t disregard their school-leaving examinations altogether, was conceptualized last year and went into effect this year.

The new process involves a JEE Main examination for admission to the 30 National Institutes of Technology (NITs), the Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IIITs), and other central government-funded engineering schools. Students will be selected to these schools on the basis of their performance in this exam (which has a 60% weightage) and their performance in the school-leaving examination (40% weightage). Since various boards around the country mark their students variously —some are generous, others not so—the process requires that the performance of a student in the school-leaving examination be “normalized”. The complaints as well as the case have to do with this normalization.

Neeraj Mehrotra, father of a student from Hyderabad, said that the normalization process is faulty and unscientific, and that he and other parents and students have filed a case in the Andhra Pradesh high court to intervene in the matter.

Separately, the top 150,000 students in the JEE Main examination are eligible to appear for a second test for admission to the IITs and the Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad—known as the JEE Advanced—provided they are also among the top 20 percentile of students in their school-leaving examination.

The process for admission to NITs and IITs has been criticized by students, academics and experts, although the HRD ministry believes it will put an end to the practice of students entirely ignoring their board examinations and focusing exclusively on the IIT entrance examination. Indeed, in some parts of the country, most notably Kota in Rajasthan, entire IIT ecosystems have emerged, where students enrol in residential prep courses that help them clear the examination even as understanding local schools enrol them in Class XII and allow them to appear for school-leaving examinations, often without attending any classes.

It isn’t clear whether the HRD ministry is considering reviewing this also, although it stands to reason that any change in the first level of the new two-tier examination process will affect the second level. The arguments behind normalization to ensure the removal of a board advantage stand for the use of the top-20 percentile criteria also.

“Some politicians and scores of students from Andhra (Pradesh) have tried to reach out to the HRD minister in the last few days over the issue of JEE. Since the minister is from Andhra, which goes to polls in 2014, it will be difficult to brush aside their concerns,” said one of the two HRD ministry officials cited above.

The general election is scheduled for next year, as are polls to the Andhra Pradesh assembly.

“Normalization is a headache; we are likely to revisit it once the minister is back,” the official said.

Some say the process is throwing up anomalies that are playing havoc with the prospects of students.

“Based on the (JEE-Main and board exam) performance of my son, we were expecting a rank within 10,000 but my son has got a ranking in excess of 33,500. Where will we get a chance to enrol in a good college now?” asked Mehrotra, the parent based in Hyderabad. The 30 NITs admit around 25,000 students every year.

Mehrotra added that some parents and students had met Andhra Pradesh intermediate education minister Parthasarathi K., who had assured them he would raise the issue with Union HRD minister Raju. The Andhra Pradesh minister confirmed that he had tried to reach Raju, who was travelling last week.

Raju was back in his office on Monday, but unavailable for comment despite several attempts.

The two government officials said the ministry was coming round to the view that the new process had been implemented in “haste”, said the first official, who referred to an Australian consultant contacted by the ministry also raising the issue of the fairness of the normalization process.

In a 10 July post on his blog, IIT-Kanpur professor Dheeraj Sanghi said: “The admission process in 2013 was expected to lead to many litigations, confusions, frustration and all that, and it is turning out to be exactly how it was predicted.” He added in his post that students were the casualty of an untested new system that hadn’t been thought through and which was being “imposed from the top”.
The plan had been conceived and implemented by former HRD minister Kapil Sibal, now the minister for telecommunication and information technology, and law.

Pramod Maheshwari, managing director of listed test prep chain Career Point Ltd, said the new system had failed to achieve its goal. “It has instead created enough confusion and stress among students,” he added.

The 20 percentile norm has particularly come in for criticism, Maheswari said. Several students missed out an IIT seat despite securing good ranks due to this, he said. The issue has also led to protests in Andhra Pradesh.

Vineet Joshi, chairman of the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), which is in charge of the normalization process, didn’t respond to calls seeking comment.

Meanwhile, the Andhra Pradesh high court has asked CBSE to reply to its notice and send its officials to explain the normalization process on 17 July, when it next hears the case.

The students and their parents had moved the court on 26 June, following which there have been two rounds of hearings. “The admission process will get over by 18 July and we hope there is some intervention before that. Else, it will be too late,” Mehrotra said.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

502 - Why have some students rejected IIT? - Rediff

Rediff.com  » Business » Why have some students rejected IIT?

July 12, 2013 10:29 IST

Dinesh Mohan 
The inference that the IIT brand name has been devalued is unfair; this could as well reflect a wider market for student choices, feels Dinesh Mohan.

The results of the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE)-Advanced were declared last week. The successful applicants are eligible for admission to the seven older Indian Institute of Technology (IITs), eight IITs established recently, IIT (BHU) Varanasi and ISM-Dhanbad.

A newspaper report says: "A total of 769 students did the unthinkable this year: they refused to study in an IIT after getting in. It's a rare situation where even general category seats in various IITs across the country have remained vacant after the first round of admission."

This report and anecdotal information gives the impression that the "brand name" of IITs may be somewhat devalued.

This is not entirely fair, as having the same name does not necessarily mean that all campuses will have the same quality of education. For example, the University of California has 10 different campuses but all of them do not have the same reputation as the one located at Berkeley.

In our case, you really cannot expect the eight new IITs to have the same reputation, in a few years, as the older ones that have been around for more than five decades.

The fact is we neglected the establishment of quality public education institutions, both at the school and university level for over three decades.
This is reflected by the fact that out of approximately 300,000 seats available in the engineering stream in the country, about 10,000 are in the IITs. Another 15,458 seats are available in National Institutes of Technology (NITs).
Which means that less than 10 per cent of those aspiring to be engineers can do so at reasonable costs and get a decent education. Among the private institutions less than 10 per cent seem to be providing somewhat quality education.

Then why have some of the eligible students decided not to study at the IITs? There could be many reasons.

Students have become acutely aware that all disciplines do not offer challenging or rewarding jobs after graduation (such as civil, production, textile, and many others). Therefore, some of them may prefer to go to an NIT closer to home that gives them an opportunity in a discipline of their choice.

Studying at an IIT for undergraduate students can cost about Rs 20,000 a month, not a small amount for a middle-class family. Some of those declining may have opted to spend less by studying at a local NIT instead of a new IIT and save on hostel expenses.

A significant proportion of the students entering IITs know from day one that they are not interested in an engineering career, but do so under parental and societal pressure or a lack of choices for obtaining decent education.
If there was a good supply of excellent liberal arts and science colleges with hostel facilities, applications to IITs may drop by a third.

It is possible that some of those declining an admission to IIT have gained admission to good law schools, design schools or science colleges that have made a name for themselves in recent years.

Lastly, there would be a group of young men and women who would prefer to spend much more money and go to an institution in the US, Australia, Singapore or the UK, even a second-rate one, than take admission in a discipline and IIT location they don't like.
Therefore, the fact that many applicants have opted out of the IIT system may be a good sign, showing that we have more choices and the system is maturing. It certainly does not reflect on the standing of IITs as academic institutions in India.
Some newspaper reports have suggested that the applicants may not want to enter the new IITs because they may be inferior to the old ones.
Such comments are not entirely true. Admission data show that many students with high ranks in the JEE are selecting newer IITs over the older ones. The reasons are not entirely clear, but it seems that discipline and location may be playing an important role.

The insinuation that the IITs may have deteriorated in academic excellence is absolutely unfounded.
As far as research output is concerned, the academic quality of faculty members at all the IITs has improved considerably over the past two decades.
Now, the older IITs get significantly more research and consultancy contracts than they did a decade ago and postgraduate students comprise about 60 per cent of our production.
Some of the newer IITs are also making brave efforts to modernise curricula and break out of older ways of academic functioning.

I am not really worried about some students opting out of the IIT system. Given the anti-intellectual character of the Indian decision-makers (politicians, bureaucrats and business people) over the past few decades, the IIT system has survived reasonably well and brought us where we are.
The future is going to be more challenging. The IIT system itself will have to shed its silo mentality and embrace new disciplines, encourage lateral entry at senior levels, and become much more interdisciplinary in nature.
No major centre of learning has maintained its standing without doing this.
The IIT system will also need an enabling environment that makes it possible for them to thrive academically. Potential teachers need to get a free education right through primary school to PhD.
Products of IITs need to find jobs that require the use of their technical education and challenge their brains. This will need some doing.

Dinesh Mohan is Volvo Chair Professor Emeritus, Transportation Research and Injury Prevention Programme at the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi

Thursday, July 11, 2013

501 - Not so 'sought after' anymore? IIT seats go vacant as 769 reject admission - India Today

Spending four years at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) is a dream millions of aspiring engineers seek to achieve. But in an unprecedented statistic, as many as 769 students who were given admission in the IITs this year have rejected to avail the opportunity, according to a newspaper report. 

What is more startling is that even the general category seats in various IITs have remained vacant after the first round of admission, a rare situation that has led to a second round of allotments beginning July 10.

According to the report, JEE (Advanced) chairman, H.C. Gupta said that hundreds of seats are available for the students of all categories. He also said that the most vacant seats are at ISM-Dhanbad while IT-BHU (now an IIT), which used to have many unfilled seats, does not have as many vacancies this year. 

A descent in the value of brand IIT and a piercing dip in the interest for pursuing engineering might be blamed for this ignominious situation. Since eight new IITs announced by the government in 2011have mushroomed across the country with no credible track record, students are inclining towards NITs and other top colleges more than IITs. 

Top recruiters to visit engineering colleges include IT companies like TCS and Infosys are of the opinion that it is improbable to choose candidates right after graduation and put them on live projects.

Monday, July 8, 2013

500 - Denied IIT seats, dozens of rankers return home - New Indian Epress

By Express News service - HYDERABAD
08th July 2013 10:24 AM

Dozens of JEE (Advanced) rankers from the state, whose IIT seat allotments have been cancelled as they did not figure in the top 20 percentile of Intermediate  marks, returned home from Chennai on Sunday. 

After the online counselling, candidates those who were allotted seats had to go to IIT-Madras, the southern vice-chairman of JEE Advanced examination office, for registration but dozens of candidates from Andhra Pradesh were sent home on Sunday, denying them seats saying that they did not figure in top percentile.

Speaking to Express, I Sandeep, who has got 3,695th rank and seat was allotted in IIT-H, said that he was denied seat as he got only 481 marks in Intermediate second year against the top 20 percentile mark from state 487/530. But they have already drawn a demand draft for Rs 60,000 and reached IIT-Madras along with their parents to take admission where he was denied admission saying that he did not figure in the list of top 20 percentile of Intermediate Board marks.
The revised top 20 percentile marks of JEE Advanced put on July 3 late night, but the seat allotment had been made earlier on the basis of the Advanced rank. After seeing the seat allotment on the website all these candidates went to IIT-Madras but were sent back home cancelling the seat allotment.

Another candidate IMC Verma who too got seat in IIT-H has said that while the cut off percentile in other states particularly in northern states is too low the IIT Advanced Board had fixed  the top 20 percentile higher than any other in the country for AP students costing a seat for dozens of Telugu candidates like him in the prestigious institutions.

“It has been a painful journey back home from Chennai to all of us on Sunday evening,’’ he said. K Vishesh, who got a seat at ISM-Dhanbad with 5000th rank, said his family members at home were waiting to celebrate his admission to the prestigious institute but this news  disappointed them.

Saying the fixing of top 20 percentile high, particularly for AP Students and considering only second-year marks, was irrational and illogical, he said that a dozen candidates like him had decided to move to court with the seat rejection letters though there were already some cases in the AP High Court on the issue.

Like these candidates dozens of students from Andhra Pradesh visited IIT-Madras were denied seats during the counselling for BC-category seats held in past two days.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

499 - News on IIT JEE Advanced Dated 4th June 2013

The Hindu
Scores of bright young aspirants to the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), who made it to the 'Advanced' section of the two-step entrance process, appeared for their test in Bangalore on Sunday. This is the first-ever Joint Entrance ...

Times of India
LUCKNOW: As expected, joint engineering examination (JEE)-Advanced didn't spring any surprise for Indian Institute of Technology aspirants. In Lucknow, over 2,500 candidates took JEE Advanced held at seven centres in two shifts on Sunday. Nationally ...

Times of India
The JEE (Advanced) is a gateway for admissions to the coveted Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs). Tejas Mahajan, who appeared for the exam, said, "The maths paper was lengthy, which added to the pressure. I don't know how much I will manage to ...

Hindustan Times
JEE-Advanced is the second level exam for the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) aspirants. Around 1.27 lakh candidates who cleared JEE-Main were eligible to appear for the exam. Students were surprised to find negative markings introduced for ...

Daily News & Analysis
About 1.5 lakh students appeared for the Joint Engineering Examination (JEE) Advanced for admissions to the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), that was held across the country on Sunday. As expected, most students found the examination hard to crack.

Indian Colleges
The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) will be releasing the answer keys of JEE Advanced exam 2013 soon. The answer key will be available on the official website for IIT Delhi www.jeeadv.iitd.ac.in. All appeared candidates may download the answer ...

The New Indian Express
Many students who wrote the exam to gain admission to the premier Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) — which comprised two papers of 180 marks each — were taken aback by the negative marking system in Paper II and the difficulty level in ...

Clearing the JEE Advanced exam will give them entry into Bachelors in Engineering, B Tech and architecture courses at the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IIITs), National Institutes of Technology ...

Daily Bhaskar
New Delhi: The joint entrance examination-advanced (JEE-Advanced) was held fo rthe first time in the country, on Sunday with 1.5 lakh students vying for 10,000 seats in the prestigious Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs). The examination has been ...

Times of India
Aspirants taking JEE Advanced can seek admissions to Bachelors in Engineering, BTech and architecture courses at the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), National Institutes of Technology (NITs), Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IIITs ...

Deccan Herald
The difference between the previous years' and this year's entrance examinations is that earlier, entry to the Indian Institutes of Technology was based on the performance in IIT-JEE examination papers subject to obtaining minimum 60 per cent ...

The New Indian Express
The first ever Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) Advanced in its new format for entry into 16 Indian Institutes of Technology and Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad, was held in the city on Sunday. ... first paper,” said Abhijit, who prefers IIT Bombay or ...

Hindustan Times
"I used to study for 10 hours daily," said Harshveer, who aspires to do engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT). "Besides my parents, my teachers also guided me," he added. Principal Rakesh Kumar Garg said Harsh had been a student of ...

Asian Scientist Magazine
India's engineers have gained worldwide attention for two reasons. First, graduates from the prestigious Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), many of whom left to the US for higher education from the 1960s onwards and stayed behind, began making a ...

498 - JEE Advanced makes students sweat it out - dna

Monday, Jun 3, 2013, 13:20 IST | Place: Bangalore | Agency: DNA

Maths, negative marking stump aspiring engineers.

IIT aspirants discuss the question paper after the exam at National College in Bangalore on Sunday. - A Veeramani/DNA

About 1.5 lakh students appeared for the Joint Engineering Examination (JEE) Advanced for admissions to the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), that was held across the country on Sunday.

As expected, most students found the examination hard to crack.

“Unlike the JEE examination, it was tough this time and there was negative marking for some of the questions and I found that quite unexpected. I found the multiple-objective question answer portion to be the most difficult.

“Students taking the exam in the future should not lose touch with the syllabus and get caught up in vacation time because this exam is a good two months after the boards,” said a city-based student, Sudheendra R, who scored 95.83% in the 12th board exams and secured a score of 240 in the JEE Main.

L Subramanian, a student from Delhi Public School, South, who has scored 91.6% in the 12th boards, said the many mock tests he took before the examination helped him tackle the JEE Advanced.

“I would say that the examination was actually not as difficult as I had expected it to be. In fact, the several mock tests I took were harder than this exam and I had also mentally prepared for negative marking,” he said.

Subramanian, a student of TIME institute, said he is planning to applying to IIT Madras if he clears the exam.

“As we had some time after the boards, I was able to study more and prepare better for this examination, but I found maths question rather hard,” he said.

Monday, June 3, 2013

497 - ‘IITs are incubators of intellectual prowess’ - The Hindu

‘IITs are incubators of intellectual prowess’

HYDERABAD, May 31, 2013

Veteran IIT professor Madhav Madhira at the panel discussion organised by The Hindu in Hyderabad on Thursday.

Devi Karunasri, a mechanical engineer of the IIT-Madras 2008 batch at the panel discussion organised by The Hindu in Hyderabad on Thursday.

R.Balasubramanian, Science Infrastructure consultant and professor of the G. Narayanamma Institute of Technology at the panel discussion organised by The Hindu in Hyderabad on Thursday.

R.S. Naveen Kishore, of the 2012 batch of IIT-Hyderabad at the panel discussion organised by The Hindu in Hyderabad on Thursday.

Sailesh Akella, an alumus of IIT-Madras at the panel discussion organised by The Hindu in Hyderabad on Thursday.

Sanjay Gadhalay, Business Consultant and IIT alumnus at the panel discussion organised by The Hindu in Hyderabad on Thursday.

T. Muralidharan, IIT alumnus and convenor of the panel discusssion organised by The Hindu in Hyderabad on Thursday.

The panel discussion, organised by The Hindu, comprised IIT alumni who dwelt at length on the various facets of the prestigious institutes

The role of IITs may not be limited to imparting core subject knowledge, or churning out candidates for the most happening jobs in Information Technology and Finance.

With even secretarial posts in the Central government being increasingly occupied by IIT graduates and postgraduates, the prestigious institutes have come to be viewed as incubators of intellectual prowess.

So felt ex-IITians who gathered at The Hindu office on Thursday for a panel discussion ahead of ‘Choice 2013’— the career counselling workshop for IIT and NIT aspirants. The workshop, sponsored by State Bank of India, will be held at Ravindra Bharathi on June 11.

Madhav Madhira, who has over 50 years of teaching experience in various IITs, sought to remind that IITs were initially set up to be research hubs, and not teaching institutions. What had earlier been a ‘by-product’ has become more successful eventually, dousing the institutions in its aura.

For those who pursue a career in the same stream, the knowledge of the subject becomes an added advantage by its relevance in the field, while those who arrive merely for the IIT tag will not go empty-handed either, the panellists sought to assure.

Five-year integrated courses are relevant for the first set of students, as they will get a better opportunity to explore and hone their skills in the core subjects, said Devi Karunasri, a young mechanical engineer from IIT-Madras.
Students who have enrolled for the four-year B.Tech can later shift to the five-year integrated course, but it is not possible the other way round.

Old versus new
On the choice between old and new IITs, there was the near-unanimous view that each had its own benefits. In terms of infrastructure and facilities, old IITs score over the new ones by huge margins, but the quality of faculty remains the same.

While emphasis has shifted from teaching to research in older institutions, the newer ones are more enthusiastic about pedagogy. R.S. Naveen Kishore, a 2012 graduate from the new IIT-Hyderabad, agrees that there were a few problems for the first batch, but his juniors had better facilities such as computer labs and drawing halls.

These hitches are to be resolved once the new and technologically-advanced campus comes up by 2014. Students in the old IITs, meanwhile, may have to make do with older equipment.

To a Facebook query on NITs in the North East, students were advised to keep them as last option, as their development would take more time. IIT Guwahati, however, has attractive offers for faculty, and hence may be considered, the panellists said.

Faculty shortage
The shortage of faculty is certainly an issue to reckon with, as a class of 120-140 students would be dealt with by a single faculty member in the first year. Sailesh Akella from IIT Madras said only one class is fortunate to listen directly to the lecturer, even as two other classes would just hear him through video streaming. However, at a few IITs, tutorials are being held after each lecture, which enhances the learning experience. After the first two years, the classes will be completely split stream-wise, with about 40 to 60 students per batch.

All IITs teach basic courses such as Mathematics, Physics, English and drawing during the first year, and a little of engineering and allied courses during the second. The core part of the chosen stream will be taught only in third year, to be taken to advanced level in the final year.

Choice of streams
On students blindly choosing streams based on their ranks, Sanjay Gadhalay, an IITian from the 80s felt the very system of ranking streams based on market preferences is flawed. Students should be allowed to choose the stream after completing two or three years of study, he felt.

Student suicides
The panel also discussed student suicides in IITs due to the pressure to perform.
According to Prof. Madhira, one has to work hard to fail in IIT, as there is relative grading. However, placements are the most compelling phase when students slip into depression.

“There are those who excel in allied activities and some who do good in academics. Those left out of both are usually the ones prone to depression,” Sailesh observed.

T. Muralidharan, an IITian from Youth Employability Services Centre (YESC) — the co-organisers of the panel discussion — moderated the discussion, while Prof. R. Balasubramanian from G. Narayanamma Institute of Technology and Science, engineer-turned-entrepreneur Srinivas Chakravarthi, and infrastructure consultant Chakrapani were the other IITians who participated.