Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Four IIMs among eight in Business Standard's top B-school bracket

India’s management education fraternity has delivered its judgment on the country's top business schools. Among the top B-schools in India (mentioned alphabetically here) are the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) in Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Kolkata and Indore; Management Development Institute (MDI)at Gurgaon; National Institute of Industrial Engineering in Mumbai; Xavier Institute of Management, Bhubaneswar; and XLRI, Jamshedpur.

The BS Best B-School Survey 2012 has been conducted by Business Standard in association with IMRB International, a leading market research agency in India, and the results of the thirteenth survey of B-schools are available in the May 2012 issue of the Indian Management, which is now on stands.

The survey does not aim to rank the institutes, but puts them in 14 hierarchical categories: Super League 1, Super League 2, A1 through A8, and B1 through B4. The scores have been allotted on two broad parameters — audit scores and perception scores. The final score is a weighted aggregate, which has been used to put the institutes in one of the 14 categories that have been worked out.

The survey puts the B-Schools in 14 hierarchical categories. Here are some institutes falling in the top two categories:

Super League 1
Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad
Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore
Indian Institute of Management, Kolkata
Indian Institute of Management, Indore
Management Development Institute, Gurgaon
National Institute of Industrial Engineering, Mumbai
Xavier Institute of Management, Bhubaneswar
XLRI, Jamshedpur

Super League 2
Great Lakes Institute of Management, Chennai
Indian Institute of Management, Kozhikode
Institute of Management, Nirma University, Ahmedabad
Institute of Management Technology, Ghaziabad
Institute of Management Technology, Nagpur
International Management Institute, New Delhi
Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies, Mumbai
KJ Somaiya Institute of Management Studies & Research, Mumbai
SP Jain Institute of Management & Research, Mumbai
SVKM’s Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies, Mumbai

The audit module is comprehensive — it takes into account a range of elements such as intellectual capital, infrastructure, admissions and placements, industry interface, governance and the scale of operations, each of which can be measured objectively. The perception scores take into account the viewpoint of the industry and the alumni. This makes the survey of B-schools totally objective, unbiased and transparent, and helps benchmark the management institutes in addition to providing authentic information to all the stakeholders.

The survey is open to business schools all over India. The eligibility criterion is that they should be approved by the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) or the government or a university. Also, at least two batches of students should have passed out of the institute. This is to assess the placements that happen at the campus. The questionnaires are sent to all approved B-schools, and they are requested to revert with the completed questionnaires to IMRB. Each completed questionnaire is thoroughly scrutinised for missing and misrepresented data, if any. The data are checked against the previous years’ figures to discover and subsequently validate any major changes. Following this, a query sheet is generated for and cross-checked with each institute, through e-mail, phone or personal visits.

For the latest survey, questionnaires were sent to 2,400 business schools. About 200 schools sent their entries within the time limit. We had to drop a few institutions from the final 197 that appear this year because the data supplied by them were incomplete or there were some unexplained deviation from the data presented last year. We are glad to note there were 63 new entrants in the list this year compared to last year.

Source: Business Standard, May 30, 2012

Indian business schools now attract global faculty

In the first quarter of 2012, Rajib L. Saha left the University of Rochester in the United States to join the International School of Business (ISB), Hyderabad, as Assistant Professor in Information Systems. The triggers for relocation were both personal - the alumnus of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kharagpur, can now be closer to his family in West Bengal - and professional. "The structure here allows for a higher level of interaction between the resident faculty and the visiting faculty compared to the US structure. There is a lot of scope to grow by working closely with research and industry than by merely attending conferences" says Saha.

Cut to the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Trichy, where Mouloud Madoun is on the institute's list of permanent faculty. After teaching at business schools in France, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Romania and Poland, Madoun recently packed his bags and headed for India. At IIM, Trichy, the professor teaches Human Resource Management, Organisational Behaviour and Corporate Social Responsibility, among other subjects. "My decision to relocate to India is professional. Although I may have earned four times what I do in India, I am a lot happier here," says the professor of French origin who taught for two decades at the Marseille School of Business.

Like Saha and Madoun, a number of global faculty members - including some of Indian origin - have figured the grass is greener on Indian B-school campuses. In 2011, Dr. Galit Shmueli, an Israeli-American professor, joined ISB as the Srini Raju Centre for IT and the Networked Economy Chaired Professor of Data Analytics & Associate Professor of Statistics & Information Systems. Her three compelling reasons for relocating: family, contribution to society, and lifestyle.

Other global faculty of Indian origin who joined ISB in 2011 include Siddharth Singh from Rice University, US, Sarang Deo from Kellogg School of Management, US, and Suman Ann Thomas from the National University of Singapore.

ISB, says Sanjay Kallapur, Senior Associate Dean (Faculty Development), targets research-oriented faculty from international schools who are equally keen to join institutes where the research environment and infrastructure are solid. "The pay too has to be competitive and we pay 60% of what US schools offer," says Kallapur. "We have to compete with Asian B-schools from countries such as China and Singapore where sizeable grants come in from the government, enabling these institutes to offer top dollar to attract international top faculty," he adds.

If global faculty is willing to take a haircut in pay packets, it's because they are coming to India with specific mandates and missions. Madoun, for instance, is researching a new management model based on Indian values and culture. "I think the management models in Europe and America are facing a lot of problems. India has the right ingredients to build a sustainable model," he says.

Similarly, Shmueli is pursuing a "dual life" in Asia. "In one life, I am an active academic, conducting research, teaching on-ground and online, and performing other academic roles. In the second life, I am a social entrepreneur in Bhutan where I co-direct the Centre for Advanced Learning Technologies at the Rigsum Institute of IT & Management."

For those with roots in India, getting back makes immense sense now that pay parity has narrowed substantially in the past two years. "Indian academics today want to bring up their children in the Indian culture as opposed to a confused desi in the West," says Dr. Bala Balachandran, founder, Dean & Chairman, Great Lakes Institute of Management, Chennai. Adds S. Bhardwaj, who returned to India from Maryland University, US, way back in 2006: "Many people abroad feel out of place although materially they do well. Although earlier the pay packets were terrible, they have significantly improved in the past few years. The fact is even with relative pay parity, people are happier in India." Bhardwaj now teaches marketing and consumer behaviour at Great Lakes.

The average annual income of an untenured professor in a top-class B-school in the US is about $150,000; and roughly $400,000 for a tenured and full or chair professor. A fully accomplished, top-of-the-line scholar in India with all the necessary degrees and qualifications heading a top-of-the-line B-school makes roughly about $50,000, or a little over Rs. 2.5 million a year. A few professors who have relocated to India in recent times take home salaries of over Rs. 5.5 million a year, which is 70-80% of what they would have earned in the US and the UK, said the dean of a top B-school on condition of anonymity.

Pay packets are not immaterial, but then those coming to India - particularly those with an ancestral stake in the country - are attracted by other factors, too. Nagesh Rao, who was recently appointed Director of Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad (MICA), had worked in different universities in the US for around 23 years before joining the IIM-Ahmedabad, in 2010. "I came back because of professional as well as personal reasons. There is no comparison between pay packages of India and the US, but I did not look at the compensation factor as I wanted to come back to India," says the professor who has taught at the University of Maryland, Ohio University, and University of New Mexico.

There is a view that India does not need to proactively woo global faculty, and if there is a rush into the country, it's because of the more attractive prospects here. Debashis Chatterjee, Director, IIM-Kozhikode, says he gets a lot of applications from the UK from faculty keen to relocate to India. "There is no need to chase global faculty; the knowledge creation is happening here and they (overseas professors) are as keen to be a part of it. If research wasn't happening here, why would a Harvard want to set up a research base in India?"

Source: The Economic Times, May 30, 2012

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Independent body to regulate vocational education sector

The government has decided to establish an independent body to regulate and lay down guidelines for developing vocational education in the country. This is expected to end a tussle between the Ministries of Labour and Human Resource Development over control of the government’s plan to impart training to 500 million people on key disciplines, including in auto and textiles.

The National Skill Development Authority (NSDA) is likely to be headed by either the Prime Minister’s skills adviser and Tata Consultancy Services Ltd’s Vice-Chairman S. Ramadorai or Planning Commission member Narendra Jhadav, according to government officials who declined to be named.

NSDA will prepare a national skills qualification framework instead of a vocational qualification framework as was suggested by the labour ministry or a national vocational education qualification framework as was proposed by the MHRD. “This has been decided by the central government a few days back. We don’t have any issue with MHRD (now) and the new framework will take care of the skills education sector in the country,” said labour secretary Mrutyunjay Sarangi.

A row broke out between the ministries of labour and HRD over the latter’s attempt to lay down a framework for vocational education. The labour ministry, the nodal agency for vocational education, strongly opposed the HRD ministry’s interference, Mint reported on 14October. The MHRD said the labour ministry had failed to meet the rising need for skilled manpower, creating a need for it to step in and integrate skills training with mainstream education.

The Ministry of Labour has a mandate to create a pool of 100 million skilled workers by 2022, as part of an overall target of training 500 million workers. The Ministry of Labour supervises more than 9,000 industrial training institutes (ITIs) and industrial training centres, where at least 1.2 million students are enrolled.

A MHRD ministry official, requesting anonymity, said the ministry recently had meetings with the labour ministry to iron out differences. Sharda Prasad, Director General at the Directorate General of Employment and Training (DGET), confirmed the development. “I had two rounds of meeting with higher education secretary and other officials. Few days back, secretaries of several ministries had a meeting on the issue,” Prasad said, adding that both the ministries will collaborate for the national mission. DGET functions under the labour ministry.

“It’s a positive development that the issue has been resolved. This will pave way for training more people in the country,” said Dillip Chenoy, managing director of National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), a public-private partnership between the government and industry lobby groups. NSDC has a mandate to provide vocational training to 150 million people by 2022.

Meanwhile, the European Union and India on Wednesday launched a project on skill development that will support development of the national skills qualification framework in some segments, including the automotive sector, with a focus on manufacturing and maintenance. It will receive an assistance of €6 million from the EU. Joao Cravinho, the EU’s envoy to India, said that in a decade the South Asian nation will have a surplus of 56 million workforce as against a shortage of 47 million in Western countries. This project will cater to the global market and help mobility of labour force “for the ever-changing employment market”, he said.

Source: Mint, May 24, 2012

Gaming tech helps students score better

Eight-year-old Ashish Gupta, a third standard student, could never really understand what a fraction was. His mother asked him to play an online game on a site recommended by her friends on Facebook. Ashish, who logged on to, got a screen similar to the online game sites he visits and started working on a fraction game. A circle cut into half, with one portion painted green, appeared and he was asked what fraction of the circle was coloured. Confused as he was, he clicked on the wrong answer.
And just like on the Farmville and Angry Bird sites, his score started appearing on the right side of the page. Ashish scrolled down to the explanation which read: "Count the number of equal parts. Count the number of green parts. One out of 2 equal parts is green. So, write one out of 2". That was very easy for Ashish to understand. Very soon, he scored a decent 88%. He had also mastered the concept.

Gamification, or using gaming techniques to explain concepts, is a happening trend among Indian students these days. It has been identified as among the Top-10 technology trends for 2012 by audit and consultancy firm Deloitte., for one, has over 10,000 users logging in just a month after its launch in India. With digital games generating over $25 billion in sales worldwide in 2010, online content providers are wrapping educational material in the form of games so that students can learn, while having fun.

While some people dismiss gamification as a fad, neuroscientists are discovering more and more ways in which humans react to interactive design elements. They say such elements can trigger feel-good chemical reactions from human responses to a stimuli -- increasing the reaction time, states the study 'Future of Internet' by Pew Research Centre.

Last week, two IIT-Mumbai alumni, Ashish Rangnekar and Ujjwal Gupta -- co-founders of BenchPrep -- brought out the first game-based GRE test preparation app for iPad, called GRE Score Quest, which can be downloaded free from App Store. "As a student attempts a question, we tell them how many of their friends have got the same answer correct. We also compare the student's performance with their peers around the world. These elements are similar to what you see in Angry Birds in Facebook," says Rangnekar. "We create games using the educational content developed by publishers like McGraw Hill. For example, if a mathematics chapter has a long list of theorems, we create a match-the-column game," says Rangnekar.

Complex algorithms deployed in game-based platforms were traditionally used by high skill-assessment programmes like GREs. "Students who appear for GRE examinations have to go through different levels. Depending on how he/she scores in the first section, the complexity of the next section is determined," says Rochelle, explaining the new format, which was introduced in August 2011 by Educational Testing Service (ETS), the organisation which conducts GRE tests globally.

The difference now is that these algorithms are now designed for students to be used anywhere, anytime. Jatin Patel, co-founder and CEO of UK-based, says: "The gamebased software operates on the concept that each learner is different. The software throws up questions in three different ways. Only if the students get it right, can he/she proceed to the next level. There are 35 different analytical tools which track a student's progress".

In what's still a disruptive space with no visible competition, hopes to tap the Indian market with its 75,000 private schools and 90 million students. The company is in talks with Google Ventures for private equity (PE) funding. While those who can afford smartphones, tablets or PCs can play games online, students of Municipal Corporation Schools in Mumbai are being initiated to these fun learning processes.

In March 2012, some students of Mumbai's 'City of Los Angeles School' in Mahim were asked to stay back after their examinations to carry out a pilot on online educational videos from Khan Academy, which creates educational videos for students. "Students were shown videos of subjects they learnt and then made to answer a set of game-puzzles," says Miheer R Walavalkar, Country Director, India of Teach-A Class. This was facilitated by creating an 'Internet hotspot' in the school.

"A hotspot is created by converting one of the computers into a server and connecting rest of the computers to it," explains Walavalkar. Unlike the classtopper. com play pattern where the software adjusts automatically, here students are offered fun-based questions designed from a base level and then gradually increased in complexity. "There was a scramble among students to step up their scores and they prepared to work on this for hours together," says Miheer. The next pilot is going to be held at Geeta Vikas schoo in Mumbai. Meanwhile, students of high-end schools like RN Podar School in Mumbai have been using videos from Khan Academy as part of their learning curriculum.

"Teachers only give them the links to the videos. Students are asked to watch the videos at home and a discussion on this is held the next day," says the principal of the school, Avnita Bir, who stumbled on this site while going through Facebook. "There have been 200,000 visitors from India to Khan Academy sites," says Sundar Subbarayan, School Implementations Lead, Khan Academy. Most of the downloads were from Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai, in April.

Source: The Economic Times, May 24, 2012

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

IITs pitch for subjective JEE to improve student quality

The Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) are planning to switch to a subjective question-based test from the current multiple-choice-based joint entrance examination (JEE) after criticism over the deteriorating quality of students. The new test will seek to evaluate the knowledge and analytical ability of aspiring students. Critics of the current format, which comprises two multiple-choice papers, include Infosys Ltd Chairman Emeritus N.R. Narayana Murthy and other executives and alumni.

The move is also being seen by some academicians as a compromise between the government and the IITs over a common entrance exam for all engineering schools. The government wants to conduct a nationwide objective-type selection test for millions of students aspiring for such colleges, including the IITs. The IITs themselves now favour a two-tier selection process, where the top rank holders in the objective test will be eligible to appear for a final subjective question-based evaluation.

The Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) has been informed about the proposal to change the selection process by the senates of at least the five older IITs. The senate is the highest decision-making body at an IIT and comprises senior professors, the director and some outside experts, including former students and executives. “Selecting students through an objective test is not the best way to get quality students for institutes like IITs,” said Sanjeev Sanghi, president of the IIT Delhi faculty forum. “We need to go back to the subjective format.”

Murthy said at an IIT alumni meet in New York in October last year that JEE coaching centres had led to the deteriorating quality of students entering the colleges. “But their performance in IITs, at jobs or when they come for higher education in institutes in the US is not as good as it used to be,” he said. “This has to be corrected. A new method of selection of students to IITs has to be arrived at.” While the top 20% of IITians can “stand among the best anywhere in the world”, the quality of the remaining 80% wasn’t as sound, Murthy had said.

Pramod Maheshwari, chief executive of Career Point, an education company that prepares students for the JEE examination, said it wasn’t fair to blame the coaching institutes. “They should ask why students go for coaching in the first place,” said Maheshwari, himself an IIT alumnus. “The quality of questions when we gave JEE (in 1989) was much tougher than what it is today.”

But Maheshwari said the suggested change would be a good move. “If you make the entrance subjective, it will help for sure,” he said. On the other hand, Maheshwari suggests that blaming the coaching centres is to ignore other ills in the system. “The standard of many IIT faculties is not very good and they need to do self-audit without blaming coaching centres, who have no say on the entrance,” he said.

The IITs insist though that changing the entrance format will have a significant impact on student quality. The decline in quality is linked to the switch in the format to objective-type questions in 2005-06, said a senior IIT Bombay professor who didn’t want to be named. Coaching centres’ methods are geared towards helping students spot the right answer out of multiple choices, allowing the undeserving to do better than more gifted aspirants with higher powers of understanding, he added. The IITs seem to regard the coaching centres with some amount of distrust, even going to the extent of scrapping the JEE centre at Kota, Rajasthan, although it isn’t clear why exactly this had been done. The town is reputed as a hub for coaching centres.

In the new format being proposed by the IITs, the top 50,000 performers will be culled from the applicants that sit in the initial multiple-choice test. Those selected will be subjected to an in-depth, three-paper evaluation, according to IIT professors who declined to be named. “Mathematics, chemistry and physics need to be tested in three different papers, maybe over two days. Papers will be checked manually by senior professors of the older IITs to create the rankings,” said an IIT Delhi professor. A senior IIT Kanpur professor confirmed this. Both declined to be named.

The JEE is currently the common admission test for the 15 IITs, the Indian School of Mines (ISM) at Dhanbad and the Institute of Technology at Banaras Hindu University, which jointly admit at least 9,600 students every year. This year, 480,000 appeared for the JEE.

An IIT-Bombay senate member expressed resistance to the MHRD’s proposal for a common entrance examination for all engineering schools starting next year. “We want a thorough trial in 2013 and then go for it in 2014. (But) the common entrance (exam) should not be the sole basis for the IIT selection process,” he said. Himangshu R. Vaish, a former president of the IIT Delhi Alumni Association and managing director of Instapower Ltd, told Mint last month that it would be preferable to have a subjective JEE exam. The ministry’s common entrance may affect the IIT brand, he said.

The IIT council and the ministry plan to hold a meeting on the issue on 28 May, said M. Anandakrishnan, Chairman of IIT Kanpur. “We will resolve all issues on that day,” he said.

Source: Mint, May 23, 2012

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

More companies to hire fresh MBAs and accounting graduates this year: GMAC

More companies are looking to hire fresh MBA and master of accounting graduates in 2012 than they did last year, according to the 2012 Global Management Education Graduate survey by Graduate Management Admission Council ( GMAC). Nearly 79% of the companies say they plan to hire recent MBA graduates this year, compared with 72% last year. On an average, the companies expect the number of new hires to increase to 17 per firm in 2012 from 13 per firm in 2011.

The Global Management Education Graduate survey for mid-February to mid-March 2012 is drawn from a sample size of 1,096 recruiters, 128 business schools and 800 companies the world over. Airtel India, India Infoline, ISB-Hyderabad, IIFT, Delhi and SP Jain Institute of Management Research were the Indian companies and business schools participating in the survey.

Companies with fewer than a 1,000 employees accounted for the largest proportional increase in demand for MBAs and other specialised business graduates in the survey. Around 62% of the newly-minted MBAs and other management education graduates participating in the survey had a job offer, up from 54% in 2011.

The survey states that MBA graduates will continue to command higher salaries this year compared with the bachelors graduates in the US. The median salary for MBA hires in the US is $90,000, but four out of five industries with available data reported a median salary greater than that amount.
Among sectors, the proportion of companies intending to hire recent MBA graduates is expected to increase by 22% in the technology sector in 2012 as compared with 2011. Within the non-profit and government sector, the proportion of companies planning to hire other specialised masters in business graduates and masters in management graduates grew by 64% and 52% respectively.

Source: The Economic Times, May 22, 2012

Monday, May 21, 2012

States may get direct central funding for higher education

With bulk of enrollment in higher and technical education taking place in universities and colleges supported by the states, the government is planning to fund the states directly, instead of allocating money to individual institutes. Both the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) and the Planning Commission are mulling new ways of funding the state-run institutes — which often complain of paucity of funds.

Currently, the Centre funds the state-run institutes individually through the University Grants Commission (UGC) in stages, but under the new system, states would be funded as a whole. The new system aims to increase the funding to state universities and colleges from Rs. 7,600 crore (Rs. 76 billion) in the 11th Five Year Plan to more than Rs. 25,000 crore (Rs. 250 billion) in the 12th Five Year Plan period (2012-17).

“There is a consensus that state universities and colleges get little support from the Centre. We are mulling a model wherein states will be looked at as a collection of institutions — both state universities and colleges — compared with the present system, wherein UGC gives piecemeal funding to institutions case by case. We are also thinking that allocation for each university should be specified at once,” said a Planning Commission official. In fact, the MHRD has proposed norms-based funding of UGC schemes so that there is better coordination between the commission and states.

At present, the higher education system in India comprises more than 556 universities, including 43 central, 289 state, 73 private, 130 deemed-to-be universities and close to 31,324 colleges. Around 14.6 million students are enrolled in the higher education sector and an additional capacity of about 25 million seats would be required over the next decade to cater to the increased demand.

Till sometime back, of the total colleges under the UGC purview, only about 6,000 (less than half) were recognised, making them eligible for development grants from the UGC. The rest were not recognised as they did not meet the criteria of permanent affiliation. In 2007, only 167 out of 224 state universities were recognised while the rest are not able to quality for recognition under this section for they fail to meet the minimum prescribed academic requirements and, thus, are deprived of the development assistance from the UGC.

“More than 80% of the enrolments in higher education happen in state universities, which have funds enough to give salaries to their staff, but hardly for expansion. Under the new scheme, the ministry would pay greater attention to such institutes,” said an education expert from the industry. The planning commission official added that with the change in pattern of funding, the UGC’s role in monitoring the expansion of education in states would increase.

Source: The Financial Express, May 21, 2012

Physios want council on lines of Medical Council of India

The Indian Association of Physiotherapists (IAP) has reiterated its demand for the formation of an independent central physiotherapy council on the lines of Medical Council of India (MCI) and Dental Council of India (DCI). According to the IAP, in the absence of a regulatory body, there is no check of quality of education provided to the students aspiring to join the profession and there is crisis of jobs as well.

"Out of 250 colleges that offer physiotherapy course in India, about 100 have been closed down in the last five years due to lack of opportunities. In Delhi, four colleges have shut down the physiotherapy department recently because number of students seeking to take admission in the course remained low," said Koshy K Mathai, executive member, IAP. He said physiotherapists have been demanding for a council for the last 20 years. "In government hospitals, there are very few posts for physiotherapists and private sector does not pay well, said a physiotherapist who works at Lok Nayak hospital.

Source: The Times of India, May 21, 2012

Saturday, May 19, 2012

IIT-JEE 2012: Number of girls cracking exam doubles in a year, gender imbalance remains intact

Each year boys max out seats at the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs). But the count of girls who secured JEE (Joint Entrance Exam) ranks has doubled to 2,886 since the last edition of the exam. Yet, the tech schools will on another front continue to be an unequal world: students from the IIT-Bombay zone (home to Kota) dominate the list of selected candidates. But the southern zone has bagged the credit for having eight of the top 20 rankers, most from Andhra Pradesh.

B-town boys have bagged the top ranks: Faridabad's Arpit Agrawal topped the JEE with a score of 385 (out of 401); he is followed by Chandigarh's Bijoy Singh Kochar and Bhilai's Nishanth Koushik. Priya Inala --- all-India rank (AIR) 21 --- from AP is the girls' topper. Science is this Asian Physics Olympiad gold medallist's first love. She is joined by two other girls in the top 100. This year, 150,000 girls took the JEE free of cost. Clearly, the plan to not charge them worked: the headcount of successful girls is exactly double of last year's 1,443.

Three boys tied at the score of 369: Jaipur's Nishit Agrawal (AIR 6; Bombay zone topper), Anant Gupta (AIR 7; Roorkee zone) and Kandivli's Manik Dhar (AIR 8; Maharashtra topper). Competition was compounded by the fact that JEE 2012 was tougher than its predecessor. "The cut-off has dropped to 172. Last time, it was 229. The difficulty level has indeed gone up," said Avinash Mahajan, IIT-Bombay's JEE chairman.

An analysis of the top 100 students shows that 31 hail from the western zone and 38 from the Madras zone. The Bombay zone also has the highest number of candidates in the top 1,000--294. Of all the seven zones (prepared on the basis of the old IITs), the western region saw the largest pool of students who qualified--- 4,239. Of these, 491 are girls. As many as 73,351 candidates took the test from this zone.

The Madras zone, from where 71,981 candidates sat for the JEE, will send 3,666 candidates to the 15 tech schools. Closer home, only 599 of the 4,696 students who sat for JEE from Mumbai qualified; of the 22,331 who appeared for the exam from Maharashtra, 1,796 made it.

Out of 33,057 candidates from Jaipur, many of whom prepared from coaching centres in Kota, 2,677 made the cut. A total of 470,000 candidates appeared for JEE. Of them, 17,462 have been short-listed for the counselling process for admission to the IITs. But 24,112 have secured ranks and can join other colleges that accept JEE scores.

JEE chairman G D Reddy said that across India, the report card of reserved category students had improved. "There will not be any preparatory programme for SC/ST students this year. Only 124 students from the physically challenged category have been short-listed for the preparatory programme."

Of the 4,805 OBC candidates who qualified, 1,625 made it to the common merit list. Of the 3,464 SC and 654 ST students who qualified, about 300 made it without the handicap of score relaxation. Nishanth Rumandla (AIR 4) is the OBC topper; Zubin Arya (AIR 94) came first on the SC merit list; and Vikas Meena (AIR 642) topped the ST merit list.

In all, the 15 IITs, IT-BHU and ISM, Dhanbad, have 9,647 seats, apportioned as: 4,722 for the general category, 2,101 for OBCs, 434 for minority OBCs, 1,403 for SCs, 708 for STs and 279 for physically challenged students.

Source: The Times of India, May 19, 2012

IIT-JEE results out, 27% more students shortlisted this year

The wait by 470,000 students was finally over on Friday, when the Indian Institute of Technology — Joint Entrance Examination (IIT-JEE) results for 2012 were declared. Arpit Aggarwal, a student of Faridabad’s Modern Vidya Niketan, bagged rank one, while Bijoy Singh Kochar from Chandigarh came in second and Nishanth N Koushik from Bhilai was awarded the third rank.

This year, the IITs shortlisted 17,462 students — a major increase from last year’s 13,800 students. These students, who will be gunning for the 15 IITs in the country, will now have to register online for counselling.

“Since counselling will be done online, we opened counselling registration on Friday. Students must fill in and submit the fee challan latest by June 9 because we will close counselling entries on June 10,” said GB Reddy, Chairman, IIT-JEE 2012.

Counselling, however, will not necessarily translate into a secured seat in the IITs for the aspirants. “We have shortlisted twice the number of students as compared to the number of seats. So, there is no guarantee that a student who has got a rank will also get a seat,” Reddy added.

This year the IITs have rolled out several changes in not just the application process, but also the number of seats. The criterion for withdrawal of admission has undergone a sea change. The IITs also uploaded the answer key to the IIT-JEE — a move that was welcomed by aspirants.

Now, several IITs have increased the number of seats across several courses. “There have been some changes in the number of seats at some IITs. While IITs Dhanbad and Hyderabad have increased the number of seats, IIT Roorkee has rearranged its number of seats,” he said. This time students who withdrew admission after payment of fees can appear for the exam again in 2013.

Source: Hindustan Times, May 19, 2012

Friday, May 18, 2012

Clearing JEE will not guarantee entry into IIT

More students will be eligible for admission in the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) in 2012, but this does not necessarily mean a guarantee of entry into the country’s premier institutions.

The IIT-Delhi will announce the results of IIT-JEE 2012 on Friday, and more than 25,000 students are expected to be eligible for admission in the premier institutes, nearly double of the number in 2011 (13, 600).

This is because the IITs have decided to lower the cut-off marks for general students to 35%, compared to 47.7% in 2011. In addition to the aggregate, the students are required to score minimum marks in physics, maths and chemistry to be eligible for the all-India rank.

GB Reddy, Chairman of JEE 2012, explained the aggregates were announced well in advance to help students prepare for the examination. “The aggregate is the bottom-line of the rank,” he told HT, refusing to disclose the number of students who will make it to all-India rank. Having more students on the eligibility list will enable IITs to call more students for counselling. While two students will be called for each general category seat, it will be up to three in the case of reserved seats. Even HRD minister Kapil Sibal had stressed on making admissions to premier institutions — IITs and IIMs — more inclusive. According to an official, a bigger basket of students will help the institutes widen their scope of absorption without compromising on quality. However, the higher number of eligible students is not a reason for cheer.

“The number of seats in IITs will be the same. So, the number of students to be called will be same as last year,” said IIT Kharagpur professor Rajiv Kumar, whose public interest litigation (PIL) in the Supreme Court had pushed the IITs to open up. Only short-listed candidates, who pay the initial admission fee of Rs. 40,000 (for general category) and Rs. 20,000 (for Other Backward Classes), are eligible for counselling. Once the counselling process is over, the student has to take the course offered or forfeit the admission fee, resulting in seats at “not-so-preferred IIT courses” to remain vacant. “There is no option to withdraw,” Kumar said, suggesting that IITs should provide an option of refund like other technical institutes.

Source: Hindustan Times, May 18, 2012

AIIMS to train 67 recruits for medical research

Of the 97 newly recruited faculty members at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), 67 young doctors will be extensively trained for research work by August this year. The move is aimed at easing the burden on the existing faculty, which is overloaded with clinical work and barely finds time for research.

"We are looking at increasing our research capability. These young doctors will be trained by our senior faculty in latest research and technology," said Prof. AB Dey, Dean - Research, AIIMS. "It is to create an environment conducive for research and get back our pre-eminent position as a research institute," he added.

In the absence of regular faculty recruitments at AIIMS for years - the last standard recruitment had happened in 2005 - the hospital was facing severe faculty crunch and the doctors had been complaining of excess patient load. Of the sanctioned 625 posts, nearly 200 were lying vacant.

"Departments such as neurosurgery, gynaecology, cardiology, among others have seen a nearly three time rise in the permitted number of patients on a daily basis. On most days, doctors are busy completing paper work till late in the night. How will we get time to concentrate on research?" said a senior faculty member.

"We have a research budget of Rs. 50 million, with Rs. 500,000 grant assigned per researcher. Till last year, this number was Rs. 100,000," said Dey.

Source: Hindustan Times, May 18, 2012

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Indian American named chancellor of University of California, San Diego

Indian American Pradeep Khosla, an IIT alumnus, has been named the eighth Chancellor of University of California (UC), San Diego. Khosla, 55, is currently working as the Dean of College of Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University.

UC President Mark Yudof made the announcement of Khosla's appointment, which will be confirmed by the university Board of Regents on May 16, Lynn Tierney, UC’s vice-president of communications, informed. Khosla is expected to be confirmed without opposition from the board, she said, adding that he will hold a press conference at the UC San Diego campus on May 19 to discuss his new role.

Neither Yudof nor Khosla can comment on the appointment until after the May 16 confirmation, Tierney said. “In slightly more than 50 years, UC San Diego, under the leadership of Marye Anne Fox and her predecessors, has become one of the world’s top universities,” Khosla said in a press statement.

Khosla, originally from Mumbai, has earned his MS and PhD degrees in electrical and computer engineering at Carnegie Mellon in 1984 and 1986 respectively, after graduating from an Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) with a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering in 1980 and working for two years in India as an engineer.

Source: Business Standard, May 13, 2012

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Fresh law grads find yet another avenue in legal process outsourcing

Law firms are no more the preferred destination for fresh law graduates looking for jobs. With outsourcing catching up even in this industry, legal process outsourcing (LPO) companies are now bagging a large number of graduates. Explaining this trend, Associate Professor at the Amity Law School, Dr Isheeta Rutabhasini, said the change is likely due to the pay packages offered by LPOs.

“There is a rising trend of students opting for LPOs. The nature of work is changing and these places offer good packages and work culture. Moreover, I believe, promotions also come faster in LPOs,” she said. Another reason for the change, Dr Rutabhasini said, could be the long working hours and stressful work environment of law firms.

Pegging the LPO industry's compound annual growth rate (CAGR) at about 30 per cent, Mr Rohan Dalal, the Managing Director of Mindcrest, an LPO, said: “There are very few lawyers available in India who are experts in the laws of the US or the UK, which constitute a bulk of our clients. In general, therefore, we prefer to hire younger legal talent, whether fresh or a few years out of Indian law schools.”

Employability gap
However, the employability gap is a problem that appears to be dogging the legal industry as well. “In general, our data show that no more than five to seven per cent of law graduates who apply to Mindcrest are selected for employment,” Mr Dalal said.

The LPO industry is expected to touch $1.2 billion over the next five years. On the other hand, while LPOs may be garnering more interest among graduates, law firms continue to bag the best. “The best students still go for litigation or join corporate law firms,” Dr Rutabhasini admitted.

Corporate law
Mr Sunil Tyagi, Partner at the Zeus Law Associates, said most freshers still want to join law firms and that most of the graduates like to practise corporate law. He said the glamour attached to corporate law as well as better pay attract students to corporate law. However, students continue to give non-governmental organisations (NGOs) a miss.

“NGOs almost always need a legal base and really look forward to having lawyers on their staff. But law graduates are often unwilling to join NGOs since the pay is generally low. We can't compete with the private sector and the pay offered by law firms or LPOs,” said Ms Maja Daruwala, Director of Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative.

Source: The Hindu Business Line, May 12, 2012

Friday, May 11, 2012

Higher education outlay under-utilized during 11th Five Year Plan

Despite a serious lack of capacity in higher education and insufficient trained people to fuel growth, India used only a portion of the funds allocated for the sector in the five years ended March, a parliamentary panel has found. The country aims to spend Rs. 4.13 trillion on higher education during the 12th Five Year Plan period (2012-17), about four times more than the Rs. 849.43 billion allotted during the preceding five years, according to the panel’s report, but the substantial under-utilization can mar its intention.

“Not only the allocation at the BE (budget estimate) stage was below the projected outlay, but it had to be brought down further at the RE (revised estimate) stage with utilization status at the year remaining even lower,” the parliamentary standing committee on human resource development said in its report, tabled in Parliament on Wednesday. The panel said annual spending on higher education in the previous plan period was in some instances as low as 10%.

Distance learning, scholarship and ICT (information, communication and technology) was allocated Rs. 6.24 billion for 2007-08 but only Rs. 676.6 million was spent. In 2011-12, the sector was allocated Rs. 10.43 billion but used only Rs. 3.46 billion. The technical education segment spent only about Rs. 10.66 billion of the Rs. 32.40 billion allocated to it for 2007-08.

The university and higher education segment spent Rs. 45.14 billion against a budgetary allocation of Rs. 60.02 billion in 2011-12. During the entire 11th plan period, this segment spent only about Rs. 176.56 billion of the planned outlay of Rs. 474.44 billion.

This, when India’s gross enrolment ratio (GER) at 20% is below the global average of 26% and far behind that of some developed countries. GER is a measure of the number of young people in the 18-23 age group pursuing higher education in any country. Brazil’s GER is 34% and the US’s enrolment ratio is 83%.

The government has drawn a scheme to improve the skills of 500 million people by 2022, aiming to bridge the education-employability mismatch and provide enough foot soldiers to Indian industries and help grow the economy. India wants to improve its GER to 30% in a decade.

At a skill council meeting on 19 January, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said India will need about 260 million skilled people by 2018. Skill training in India is a $20-billion business annually, according to a July report by Kotak Securities Ltd. Around 475 million people will need training by fiscal 2022, it said.

“This makes it clear beyond doubt that there are no fund constraints so far as allocation for higher education sector is concerned. What is required is well-constructed and co-ordinated approach for optimum and judicious utilization of allocated funds,” said the parliamentary panel, which is headed by Congress leader and Rajya Sabha legislator Oscar Fernandes. Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi is a member.

The committee said state governments “have to play very critical role in this regard”. It also advised the Union government to “sensitize the concerned authorities for successful implementation of various centrally sponsored schemes”.

A Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) official said the ministry was aware of the problem and wants all states “to come on board for making higher education a more impactful” sector. “Since the states play a key role in implementing schemes, they should be active in spending allocated funds,” the official said, requesting not to be named. “We will take this up during the (state) education ministers meet next month.”

Commenting on the Planning Commission’s 12th Plan approach paper, which states that about 18% of all government education spending, or 1.2% of the gross domestic product, be spent on higher education, the panel said the funding should be raised to 25% of all government education spending. “Higher education being an important sector for the development of the nation the committee feels that focused attention in terms of resources and funds should be made available for development and quality research and innovation,” the panel said in its report.

Source: Mint, May 11, 2012

Educational institutions set to follow ICAI norms

Higher education institutes in the country will soon have to report their financial information in a standard and uniform format set by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI). As per the format, the institutes will now have to disclose their balance sheet and the income and expenditure account. The new system is a shift from the present cash basis of accounting to accrual-based system.

While the balance sheet will include sources and applications of funds along with liabilities and assets, the income and expenditure statement would reflect the academic receipts, grants and donations. With education being a not for profit activity, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) wants to enforce these standards in order to check how much profit the educational institutes are making.

“We want the institutes to keep their accounts and want to know if they actually are not-for-profit which they should be. The new accounting standards will be mandatory for all and we hope to implement it this year. Going ahead, we might introduce the accounting format for schools also,” said an MHRD official.

The move assumes significance as in the recent years, government aid to educational institutions particularly in the form of concessions and incentives has risen besides increased fees charged from the students and increased donations by certain donor agencies. “We already disclose our finances, which are audited by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India. The new accounting standards are very recent and we are still studying the new paradigm as depreciation will have to be included,” said IIT-Kanpur Director.

The present system of accounting and financial reporting followed by educational institutions does not meet the accountability concerns of the donors, including government and other stakeholders such as members, governing board, management staff, volunteers and general public as educational institutions in India follow not only diverse accounting practices but also different basis of accounting.

As per the new system, funds received by educational institutions may be divided into restricted funds, unrestricted funds which includes corpus fund, designated funds and general fund. “The new accounting standards will make it easier to understand and follow the balance sheets and make the entire system more transparent. Also, we are following the old system of accounting which need to be improved,” said Shekhar Chaudhuri, Director, IIM-Calcutta.

However, institutes feel that the new accounting norms would only add to their administrative load. “It would be better to reduce the involvement of human element and use some modern technological solution for accounting to do financial accounting accurately,” said an IIT professor.

Source: The Financial Express, May 11, 2012

MHRD pulled up for 35% vacant teacher posts

The shortfall of teaching staff in universities across States has drawn the attention of a Parliamentary panel which has slammed the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) for the “discouraging” situation. It says in 24 Central universities across 16 States, on an average 35 per cent of teaching posts are lying vacant.

The universities with a large number of vacancies include Delhi University, where nearly half or 919 of the 1,701 sanctioned posts are vacant. In Banaras Hindu University, there are no teachers in 848 posts, and in Allahabad University 285 posts are vacant.

The Standing Committee on HRD, in a report tabled in Parliament, took a “serious note” of these vacant posts, and pointed out that it may possibly mean young students are not attracted towards the teaching profession. “The Committee observes that the situation is quite discouraging at present,” the panel said.

The report says, of 77 the State universities, according to the data from 2007, 19 universities have more than 50 per cent vacancies, and in 14 other universities 40 per cent posts are vacant. Showing some leniency towards the newly formed Central universities, the Committee said a large number of vacancies in the Central universities formed in the last three to four years could be “justified to some extent”.

However, it questions the long-established universities as to why they have been unable to appoint teachers. “...either our young students are not attracted towards the teaching profession or the recruitment process is a prolonged one and involves too many procedural formalities,” the panel says.

The report also slammed the Government on delays in raising the salary scales of teachers in colleges and universities, saying “the improved package will undoubtedly help in attracting and retaining talented teachers, resulting ultimately in the improvement of quality of higher education”.

The non-utilisation of allocated funds by the Central university has also been criticised by the panel. It, however, adds that the proposed National Mission on Teachers and Training, which is to be launched in the 12th Five Year Plan, is a step in right direction, even though delayed.

Source: The Hindu Business Line, May 11, 2012

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Staff crunch, temporary campuses mar new IITs

The government's attempt to bolster professional education institutes has turned a cropper, with the new Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISERs) hit by an acute shortage of faculty and are still functioning from temporary campuses. A parliamentary panel report has asked the HRD ministry to ensure that these gaps are met so that the premium institutes can function more effectively.

The standing committee on HRD has expressed concern over the shortage of faculty that is as high as 60% in some IITs. The sanctioned posts in the new IITs are about 90, but none of the new institutes have been able to fill up their posts. While IIT-Hyderabad had the support of 74 faculty members, institutes in Patna (55), Bhubaneswar (50), Indore (38) and Mandi (35) had below-par strength. IIT-Jodhpur was worst off, with only 32 members in its faculty. "The committee is of the view that only qualified and experienced faculty can make the functioning of any institution, specially premier institutions like IIT meaningful and effective," the report said.

It also expressed concern over the running of new IITs from temporary campuses despite being set up between 2008 and 2010. In the case of new IITs, either the location of the permanent campus was being finalized or land allotted or construction work was to start. In the case of IITs in Bhubaneswar and Mandi, for instance, the foundation stones were laid in February, 2009, but they continued to function from temporary campuses. The report said that it was clear that it would take some time before IITs begin to function from "well-structured and well-equipped campuses."

Five IISERs (in Pune, Kolkata, Mohali, Bhopal and Thiruvanthapuram) also continue to function from temporary campuses. Pulling up the ministry, the parliamentary panel said that: "These institutions were envisaged to carry out research in frontier areas of science and to provide quality science education at undergraduate and postgraduate level." IISERs are expected to have state-of-the-art buildings, fully equipped labs and rich library but these facilities are still not available for students.

The report noted 10 new NITs (National Institutes of Technology) also suffered similar fate, with four functioning out of their respective mentor NITs and six running from temporary campuses. The committee also observed that several legislations related to higher education continued to be delayed.

Source: The Times of India, May 10, 2012

Birla Institute of Technology & Science entrance more competitive than IIT

Cracking the IIT-JEE may be top priority for most students, but the BITSAT is now the most competitive of all national engineering entrance exams in the country. An average of 68 students will compete for a seat in this year's BITSAT, the online test for admission into degree courses at Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani, which starts on May 10. In comparison, only 54 students contested for a seat at the IIT-JEE 2012.

Based on number of applications received, 136,000 students are expected to take the BITSAT-2012 for admission to a total of 2,000 seats at the institute's campuses in Pilani, Hyderabad and Goa. The exam will be conducted in 32 centres across the country between May 10 and June 9, 2012. On the other hand, 520,000 students took the IIT-JEE 2012 on April 8 to be eligible for 9,600 seats in the 15 Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT), the Institute of Technology at Banaras Hindu University (IT-BHU) and the Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad.

The VITEEE, which was conducted on April 21 for admission into deemed university Vellore Institute of Technology, follows the IITs with 48 students competing for one seat. The exam was taken by about 150,000 students across India for admission to 3,100 seats. "VIT sees the largest number of applicants among deemed universities because of its placement record, especially in the IT sector," said Jayaprakash Gandhi, an education consultant.

Next comes the All India Engineering Entrance Exam (AIEEE), which was taken by 1.1 million students this year for admission into approximately 35,000 seats in the 31 National Institutes of Technology (NIT). The AIEEE score is also used by approximately 50 other private and government engineering institutions across the country, many of which have a majority of seats reserved for students of the home state and admit them by conducting their own regional common entrance tests. On an average, 31 students compete for one seat with the AIEEE score.

AIEEE is followed by some more private and deemed universities such as Manipal and SRM which have grown in popularity over the last few years, especially because of their superior infrastructure. Manipal recorded 27 applicants per seat this year followed by SRM with a ratio of 22 per seat.

Fewer seats gives BITS edge
Educationists say it is the increase in intake at IITs that has lowered its student-to-seat ratio, putting it behind BITS. In 2008, six new IITs were established and several courses added, which took total number of seats from approximately 5,500 to 7,000. Two more IITs were added in 2009 and the number of seats went up to 8,200. Introduction of newer courses and an increase in the number of seats has taken the number of seats to 9,600 in 2011-2012.

In comparison, numbers of seats at BITS have remained constant at 2000, making it more competitive. "The BITSAT has been growing in popularity among students since it was introduced in 2005. Over the last 2-3 years, number of applicants has increased enough to make the exam more competitive than the IIT-JEE," says S Mohan, associate dean of admissions at BITS. The institute, founded in 1964, used to admit students based on their class 12 marks before 2005.
Since 2007, students are not allowed to take the IIT-JEE more than twice, slowing down the growth rate in the number of applicants. While 320,000 students took the exam in 2008, 395,000 took it in 2009, 472,000 took it in 2010 and 480,000 took it in 2011. This year, BITSAT lowered its eligibility criteria from 80% to 75% in the board exams making more students eligible. "We found that a lot of students were getting left out due to the high qualifying percentage," says Mohan.

Over the last five years, number of students applying to the BITSAT has increased steadily from around 88,000 in 2007 to 123,000 in 2011 and 136,000 in 2012. The BITSAT is also completely based on the NCERT school syllabus which makes it more popular, especially among CBSE school students. 'We discourage aspiring students from taking extra coaching for the exams and students who prepare well for their class 12 boards can do well in the BITSAT," says Mohan. Students also need to obtain a minimum average of 75% marks in Physics, Chemistry and Math in the board exam to qualify for a seat, the highest cut-off among all other engineering tests.

Source: The Times of India, May 10, 2012

Thursday, May 03, 2012

NIT, Rourkela bags 5th rank among best universities of India

National Inistiture of Technology (NIT), Rourkela has bagged the fifth rank among the best universities in India and 1067th rank in the world, according to a new survey conducted by a global research group. The NIT occupied the position in webmetrics ranking of world univeristies by Cybermetrics lab, a Spain based international research group.

The webmetric ranking of world universities is an initiative of the cybermetric lab, a research group belonging to the Consijo Superior de investigaciones Cientificas (CSIC), the largest public research body in Spain, NIT sources said. The cybermetric lab, part of CSIC is devoted to the qualitative analysis of the internet and web content specialy those related to this process of generation and scholarly communication of scientific konwladge. This is a new discipline called Cybermetric.

NIT-Rourkela Director Sunil Kumar Sarangi said the ranking of NIT was a matter of great pride and profound honour for the entire NIT family, faculty, staff, students and to all others "who helped us in our efforts to achieve this prestigious position".

Source: The Economic Times (Online Edition), May 3, 2012

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

IITs ready to open Mauritius campus

Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) are set to open their first overseas campus in Mauritius and a feasibility report has already been prepared. This campus will be set up in collaboration with Mauritius University with support from the Indian as well as the Mauritius government. To be named International Institute of Technology (IIT), the institution will engage in research and development for the first five years.

“We have already given the feasibility report to the human resource development ministry as well as the Mauritius government,” said M. Balakrishnan, who is spearheading the team in charge of the plan. “We are ready to start it this year but it depends on both the governments, as the proposal to set up the institute was taken by the Indian education minister and his mauritius counterpart,” he said.

Human resource development minister Kapil Sibal and Rajesh Jeetah, Mauritius’ minister of tertiary education, science, research and technology, had in June 2010 expressed a willingness to open an institute similar to an IIT in the island nation.

To start with, it will be a IIT-Delhi research academy with a global outlook, Balakrishnan said. “IIT-Delhi will mentor the institute and we believe we will engage some 40 faculty members for the Mauritius centre,” he said, adding that these professors need to give at least one month of their time for the campus — three weeks in Mauritius and one week in India dedicated for the offshore plan. According to the plan, the initial investment will be more than $20 million.

Since Mauritius does not have a huge industry-linked economy, the course and research areas have to be global in outlook, Balakrishnan said. Both faculty and students will be global as well. “Their industries are largely sugar and fisheries but we know that it’s an international gateway and can be a hot destination for IT, electronics and e-commerce streams,” he said.

A human resource development ministry official, who did not want to be named, said the ministry is discussing the report and is “quite optimistic”. IIT-Delhi Director R.K. Shevgaonkar said the IITs want to make their presence felt overseas. “We now have the expertise and know how to help a country set up an IIT-like institute. It will have a huge impact on our brand image.” The aim is to start with research and not undergraduate courses. “If you start teaching undergraduate courses from the beginning then it will become a college, not an IIT-type institute, which is research-oriented,” he said.

Source: Mint, May 2, 2012

IITs to make JEE answer papers public

The Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) will display online the answer papers of all candidates who appear for the joint entrance examination (JEE) before the final ranking is prepared to make the process transparent, starting with the test that took place last month.

The answer sheets of all the 480,000 candidates who sat for the exam seeking a berth in the prestigious engineering and technology institutes will be uploaded on 5 May, G.B. Reddy, JEE Chairman, said on Wednesday. The results and ranks will be announced on 18 May.

“The move will be a key step in bringing transparency in high-stake entrance exams and improve the trust of students and parents in the IIT system,” Reddy said. The test answers will be uploaded by the IITs and JEE Thursday, while the optical response sheets (ORS), or answer papers, will be on display from 5 May by the IITs and JEE. Students can download their answer papers after registering on the respective websites.

“If any individual students has any complaints about his answer paper, then he/she can file a complaint online between May 5 and May 10,” IIT-Delhi Director R.K. Shevgaonkar said. IIT-Delhi is the organizing IIT for JEE this time. If a student complains of any discrepancy in the marks awarded, then the respective answer paper will be verified manually before 15 May. “After the rechecking is done, we will put out the final result/ranks on the pre-decided date,” the director said. “IIT-JEE is evolving and we would try to be as transparent as possible.”

Reddy said the decision was taken by the 13-member joint implementation committee of the IITs. In August 2011, the Supreme Court ruled that examination answer sheets must be made public under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. A bench comprising justices R.V. Raveendran and A.K. Patnaik dismissed petitions filed by various public examination agencies, while upholding a 2009 judgement of the Calcutta high court on this issue.

The ruling followed an appeal in the apex court by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education, the West Bengal Council of Higher Secondary Education, the University of Calcutta, the West Bengal School Service Commission and the Assam Public Service Commission against the high court’s order, Mint reported on 9 August last year. The voluntary move by the IITs is the first by any leading institute, said S.M. Ishtiaque, Deputy Director (Administration), IIT-Delhi.

At last month’s entrance exam, students were allowed to take a “carbon copy of the answer sheet after they gave the entrance exam and now we are giving them the evaluated answer papers containing all details about which question has secured how much marks”. Students welcomed the move and the prospect of seeing their mark sheets before the final ranking is announced. “Technically, by 3 May, we will know how we have done in the exam and by 5 May, the answer paper will be in our hand. This gives a lot of peace of mind,” said Rajiv Kumar, an IIT aspirant.

While the move towards transparency will be a model for all public exam conducting bodies, it gives the IITs a chance to defend JEE against any possible attempt by the government to dilute the test’s stature as it bids to establish a common entrance exam for all engineering colleges across India. “Going by the track record of the IITs, it’s better to keep the JEE to maintain quality. The opposition has been conveyed by respective IITs to the HRD (human resource development) ministry. The individual IIT senates are now debating the issue,” said a member of the IIT Delhi faculty who did not want to be named. Mint reported on the IIT-ministry tussle on 17 April.

Shevgaonkar said there was no disagreement with the central government but there are concerns over the new format proposed by the government that tentatively is to come into existence in 2013. He said this left little time for making such a change as the IITs generally give two years’ notice before altering the format. Also, it will be difficult for all school boards to publish their results before the IIT-JEE as a default by even a single board can affect the entrance exam, Shevgaonkar said. The school board result is important as the HRD ministry wants the IITs to give a 40% weight for the Class 12 marks while preparing their merit list.

“To bring a common entrance in 2013 looks difficult,” the director added. He said the IIT senates will put forth a fresh proposal to the ministry by 10 May. Both the faculty and IIT alumni associations are opposing the plan to do away with JEE and have a common entrance test.

Source: Mint, May 2, 2012

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