Sunday, July 06, 2014

Seat in IIT? No thanks, say some students

The Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) are the country's premier technical schools, the only ones to make it to the top 300 in global university rankings and the No. 1 destination for engineering aspirants. Well, maybe not for all. Students are now declining seats in what was once India's holy grail of engineering education.

"At the end of the first phase of counselling, of the 9,711 seats made available this year, only 9,061 have been filled," JEE (Advanced) 2014 organizing chairman M K Panigrahi said. "But the situation is better than last year." He said seats could be vacant because some students who qualified in the JEE (Advanced) may not have high enough marks in the Class 12 boards to make it to the top 20 percentile as required for admission to the IITs. Others may be set on a particular course and would rather give up a seat in one of the IITs than opt for a stream they don't want to pursue, Panigrahi said.

But a fact that IIT faculty members admit to off the record is that the top five IITs - Delhi, Mumbai, Madras, Kanpur and Kharagpur - are still in demand but the 11 campuses established more recently, like Mandi in Himachal Pradesh and Ropar, in Rupnagar, Punjab, for instance, do not have quite the same appeal. "Not many students are enamoured by the new IITs," a senior professor at IIT-Madras said.

The IITs this year extended the deadline for seat acceptance by a day. Admission officials advised candidates allocated seats in the first round of counselling to accept the seats and pay the provisional admission fee on Friday, but gave them a day to make up their mind. But Panigrahi said "the peak period" ended on Thursday, indicating that not too many students are likely to change their mind on Friday.

Several seats were not filled in previous years when the IITs conducted only one round of counselling, so the institutes in 2013 started to conduct three rounds of counselling. Still, at the end of the third round, students left more than 200 seats vacant.

Faculty members discussed the issue and came to the conclusion that some candidates who made it through the tough competitive test could not make it to the IITs because they did not fill enough choices during the counselling process. The institutions then decided to make it mandatory for students to select at least 50 choices whether or not the candidate should choose to take those streams. However, this does not seem to have worked either.

A senior IIT faculty member, who declined to be named, said even if the students mark all the choices required, most of them are clear about what they want to study. "They feel that some of the streams offered by the IITs are not promising. So, they prefer to join self-financing institutions or the NITs and take the course of their choice," he said.

Source: The Times of India, July 6, 2014

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