Thursday, April 12, 2012

Meet on proposed IIT entrance exams ends inconclusively

The fate of a common entrance examination for all centrally funded engineering colleges continued to hang in balance as the meeting between Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) and the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) ended inconclusively. Both sides maintained that the day's meeting had been "fruitful" and "positive". IIT directors, chairpersons of the Board of Governors, and faculty federation representatives from the older IITs - Kharagpur, Kanpur, Delhi, Bombay, Guwahati and Madras - met with human resource development minister Kapil Sibal and ministry officials on Wednesday.

Meeting had been called after some of the older IITs, particularly IIT Kanpur, Bombay and Delhi, had expressed their misgivings and concerns about the proposed examination reforms. The Senate, which is the highest decision making body within each institute, of IIT-Kanpur and -Delhi had earlier questioned the decision to replace the IIT-JEE and had asked the ministry to hold on and further debate the issue of examination reforms. Wednesday's consultations were expected to resolve the matter ahead of Saturday's IIT-NIT Council meeting.

"It was a fruitful meeting, both sides heard each other out. We are on the same page," human resource development minister Kapil Sibal said while refusing to disclose any details of the two meetings held during the day. Sources indicated that the IIT directors have been asked to discuss the reform proposals in the Senate. After which the IITs are expected to revert to the ministry with their recommendations for consideration.

There has been discontent from the IIT faculty. IIT Kanpur, Bombay and Delhi are most dissatisfied with the manner in which the proposed common entrance examination is being introduced. At the heart of the discontent is the fact that there has been no formal engagement of the Senate or Faculty Federations in working out the examination reforms. The lack of a formal engagement gave the impression that the new entrance process was being "forced on the IIT system".

The decision to allow for further discussions in the Senate appears to be an effort to counter this impression. No time line has been set for this process, "as soon as possible" is believed to have been the only guideline. There has also been a demand that all changes be put on hold till the IIT Senate is satisfied. There are no indications if this has been agreed to. The IIT Council, which is the highest decision making body under the IIT Act, gave its in principle approval to the new entrance procedure at its meeting in September. In effect, the government could well go ahead with the proposed reform.

Source: The Economic Times, April 12, 2012

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