Monday, February 27, 2012

Coaching firms now set eyes on ISEET pie

The government wants to check the booming coaching class business with a single test to replace multiple engineering tests. Bring it on, says the Rs. 23,000-crore (Rs. 230 billion) industry. A day after the Indian Science Engineering Eligibility Test (ISEET) was announced, the homepage of Career Point, a coaching institute based in Rajasthan’s Kota, the hub of training institutes in the country said: “Welcome ISEET 2013. Being a pioneer in adopting all changes in IIT-JEE and AIEEE, Career Point proudly announces admission for the ISEET course.”

The ISEET, expected to roll out next year, will eliminate India’s two largest engineering entrance tests — the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) and the All India Engineering Entrance Examination (AIEEE). Institutes are quickly adapting to the upcoming regime, which was designed in part to check their rampant growth. India, which has a Rs. 1.8-trillion education and training market, produced 800,000 engineers last year.

“We expect more students because of the gap between school teaching and competition, which is the application of concepts which needs practice. However, now, students will have to appear for the aptitude test besides the advanced learning test,” said RL Trikha, Director, FIIT JEE, the largest player in the engineering coaching business. Over 20,000 students have signed up at the institute this year, with the number of candidates growing 10-15% every year.

ISEET will test comprehension, critical thinking and logical reasoning, along with problem-solving ability in basic science subjects. The two tests will together indicate a candidate’s scholastic level and aptitude for science and engineering and give 40% weight to class 12 Board exams. This means coaching centres will have to expand their curricula to include school syllabus - something which FIIT JEE offers in its two-year integrated school programme called Pinnacle. “In the last three years, a large number of candidates is common to IIT-JEE and AIEEE rank lists. The ISEET, which allocates weight to marks in class 12 exams will help students focus on academics,” said Satya Narayanan, Chairman, CL Educate (previously Career Launcher).

Brilliant Tutorials is the platform partner for CL. While the bulk of Brilliant’s 40,000 students are IIT aspirants, 8,500 out of 100,000 CL students are engineering aspirants. The industry feels the coaching class business will continue to thrive. “Coaching classes are related to the aspirations of students and there will be fierce competition for the remaining 60%, after the 40% weight to school exams. The government may not be completely successful in controlling the business,” noted Shalini Sharma, Head, Higher Education at the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

CL’s Narayanan said with the new test, there will be no escaping the school syllabus. His institute will start offering coaching in school curricula soon. “As long as such competitive exams remain and the number of students increase, they will always need extra coaching to perform better than others. We have been changing our coaching in line with the changing patterns of engineering exams and aptitude training is something we impart to all our students,” said Ajay Antony, Course Director, IIT-JEE exam at Triumphant Institute of Management Education (T.I.M.E.). However, coaching institutes are divided on the issue of fees. While Antony says there could be a 10-15% increase, others say fees might decline.

Source: The Financial Express, February 27, 2012

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