With a decision taken recently at an Indian Institute of Technology Council meeting, students will have some breathing space in the cut-throat competition to get into IITs across the country. Class XII students no longer have to worry about being in the top 20 percentile of their respective boards.
Under the new admission criteria, students with a minimum of 75 per cent will be eligible for a seat in an IIT, provided they clear the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE). Previously, students who did well in the JEE but failed to do well in their board examinations weren’t eligible for admission to IITs.
However, there were mixed reactions to this development. Bhaskar Ramamurthi, Director, IIT-Madras refused to comment saying ‘it was too soon to tell’. Sivakumar Srinivasan, Dean of Students, IIT-M welcomed this move. He recalls an incident a few years ago when a student who had received 92 per cent in her boards did not get through admission because she did not fall in the top 20 percentile of scorers. “She’d done her JEE well, and asked me if I could help, I was tongue-tied,” he says, explaining that she would have stood a better chance with these new rules.
He says that if students are not eligible for a seat in spite of scoring such high percentages, there was no point in working so hard. But he also points out that the 20 percentile norm was brought in to quell the “Ramaiah-Chaitanya” effect, as he calls the mushrooming tuition centres in the country. Ramaiah IIT Study circle and Sri Chaitanya IIT Academy are sought after coaching centres in Andhra Pradesh, one needs to clear entrance tests to get admitted into these centres. “Relaxing the 20 percentile norm will bring them back again,” he says.
Prof Sunil Kumar Sarangi, Director of NIT, Rourkela, feels extremely disappointed with this move. “This is a self-defeating step. It will lead to degradation of standards. I feel very unhappy for my alma mater, and for former students of the IITs who faced tough challenges to get into the institutes.”
He explains that this will create a culture where students will ignore their teachers, classes and board examinations. “Are we telling them, your future is in the tuition centre?” he asks. Out of half a million students in this country who score above 90 per cent, five lakh people who are the best are chosen, and the child should learn to face this challenge, he explains. “Now every Board be it State or Central will try to give a minimum of 75 per cent to its students in order to make maximum students eligible.”
Prof M Anandakrishnan, Chairman, IIT-Kanpur, says this will not lead to the dilution of academic standards in any manner. “For want of few marks we should not have students being left behind. We should give importance to board exams but at the same time see the student’s potential for admission,” he says.
As for students, they have one less pressure on their minds; they needn’t focus their energies on becoming one among the top scorers of their State, to get into an IIT for.