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Engineering admissions: Weightage to Class 12 marks aided coaching institutes, says Government panel

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The Indian Express | Ritika Chopra | New Delhi | October 28, 2015 |

This goes against the rationale cited by former HRD Minister Kapil Sibal, who had convinced all central engineering institutes to make drastic changes to their admission format in 2013.

Three years after IITs and NITs first introduced Class XII board marks as an admission criterion to reduce the influence of coaching and bridge the gender and urban-rural divide in classrooms, an expert committee appointed by the government has found that the decision has not served that purpose. A nine-member panel, headed by C-DAC director Rajat Moona, studied the admission data of 31 NITs over the last three years and found that instead of registering a decline, the influence of coaching among candidates taking the JEE (Main) grew by four percentage points.  This goes against the rationale cited by former HRD Minister Kapil Sibal, who had convinced all central engineering institutes to make drastic changes to their admission format in 2013. Sibal had argued that giving weightage to Class XII board performance would help students focus on school education and wean them away from coaching classes. In 2013, an ASSOCHAM survey had pegged the worth of the private coaching industry in India at $24 billion.

The review panel, however, found that the number of JEE (Main) examinees assisted by tuitions increased from approximately 15 per cent of the total in 2012 to 19 per cent in 2014. The total number of examinees taking JEE (Main) has hovered between 12 lakh and 14 lakh from 2013 to 2015. The panel report, a copy of which has been reviewed by The Indian Express, also shows that the NITs have not witnessed “substantial gains” in the number of girls qualifying the JEE (Main). With girls traditionally outperforming boys in Board examinations, the HRD Ministry under UPA-II had felt that the inclusion of Class XII marks would help increase their presence in engineering classrooms. However, the number of girls in the top one lakh remained virtually stagnant at 22 per cent from 2013 to 2015.The urban-rural divide in classrooms, too, did not change dramatically, with the number of rural students in the top one lakh candidates of JEE (Main) increasing by less than one per cent over three years, from 29.47 per cent in 2013 to 30.20 per cent in 2015. A student’s Class XII marks were incorporated as an admission criterion by all central engineering institutes on the ground that it will help temper the bias for urban candidates, who have easier access to coaching classes.

“In order to be free of urban-rural bias (or to minimise this bias), the number of candidates appearing in the JEE (Main) should be close to the rural-urban ratio of approximately 7:3, whereas this ratio has been close to 9:11 and heavily biased towards the urban population… The new method of ranking was suggested in which board marks were incorporated to encourage this division to be as close to the population ratio as possible. By introduction of this scheme in 2013, and three years into the scheme, no substantial gains are noticed,” the report states. All central engineering institutes had agreed to accord weightage to Class XII Board marks in admissions in 2013 at the behest of Sibal. Since then, the NITs have been admitting students by giving 40 per cent weightage to Class XII marks and 60 per cent to JEE (Main) performance. The IITs, on the other hand, grant admission only if a candidate, apart from qualifying JEE (Advanced), is either in the top 20 percentile of his or her Board results or has scored above 75 per cent. Both IITs and NITs are reportedly unhappy with this experiment and want it scrapped. They are in favour of admitting students on the basis of just their performance in the entrance examinations. This issue was raised at a recent meeting of the IIT and NIT Councils, following which the matter has been entrusted to another expert committee. A final decision by the HRD Ministry is expected next month. –  Courtesy


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