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JEE coaches hit where it hurts

New Delhi, Sept. 18: The human resource development ministry has struck money-spinning coaching centres where it will hurt the most.

The decision to go in for a new selection process for the Joint Entrance Exam to the IITs and reform the question paper format will cut to size the centres that have mushroomed all over the place.

In the last two decades, the centres had come to represent a sprawling and fast-growing “industry” in the unorganised sector, with an estimated annual turnover of Rs 2,000 crore.

Now that the JEE has a 60 per cent cut-off mark and allows only two attempts, the mad scramble for coaching centres is bound to slow down. Fewer students would mean lower revenues.

However, Forum for IIT JEE (FIT-JEE), the best-known coaching centre with a national profile, is putting up a brave face and claiming its fortunes will not be hit.

Spokesman Rakesh Lalla said: “It will increase stress levels among students from small towns and backward states who will have to score 60 per cent in their school leaving exam to get admission to IIT.”

Mumbai-based FIT-JEE and Chennai-based Brilliant Tutorials are tops of the coaching ladder. They have fed on the frenzy to make the IITs and IIMs in the last 20 years, which has been irrespective of class or creed.

“Coaching centres have always been there. But they started functioning in an organised manner from the 1980s as a serious business model,” Lalla said.

A huge gap between demand and supply of quality professional institutions had fuelled the race for coaching centres.

Although the IITs admit a little over 4,000 students, nearly 2 lakh aspirants vie to make the cut each year. “Of two lakh aspirants, a lakh go for coaching,” Lalla said.

The FIT-JEE has centres in Delhi, Jaipur, Kota, Lucknow, Hyderabad and Bangalore. It has classroom and correspondence programmes, the fee ranging between Rs 80,000 and Rs 85,000. About 4,000 students are admitted for classroom programmes.

“Quality does not come cheap. Look how much the IIMs charge,” Lalla said.

The success rate among FIT-JEE students is high, having gone up from 762 in 1997 to 2,059 this year. FIT- JEE was started in 1992 by D.K. Goel, a mechanical engineering graduate from IIT Delhi.

“Those who do not get into the IITs are coached for admission into regional engineering institutions,” Lalla said.

Over 60,000 students sign up for the Brilliant Tutorials every year. It has a faculty of 125 experienced teachers who design the study material based on analysis of competitive exam papers.

The latest trend in the coaching industry is to hire qualified technical and business professionals as faculty.

Another coaching centre, Career Launcher, was founded by IIM Ahmedabad alumnus Satya Narayanan in 1995. It now operates a chain across 51 cities in India and West Asia and trains 35,000 students.

The coaching centre culture has reached smaller places like Kota and Varanasi too. In Kota, Bansal’s Classes are a rage among IIT and IIM aspirants.

“These centres have as many as 40,000 students who come from outside the state. Virtually every house has two students living as paying guests,” a coaching expert said. Fees range between Rs 40,000 and Rs 50,000.

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