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Large-scale vacancies in institutes this year
Candidates at an OJEE counselling centre in Bhubaneswar. Telegraph picture

Bhubaneswar, Aug. 2: The Orissa Joint Entrance Examination (OJEE)-2011 counselling is heading for a repeat of last year. Choice locking and document verification for engineering aspirants concluded on Monday and, as apprehended, more than 16,000 seats in engineering colleges will remain vacant for the want of takers.

Over 21,000 aspirants participated in the choice locking process. However, the sanctioned strength in over 100 colleges under OJEE is around 38,000 seats, which would lead to a glaring number of vacancies. Last year, more than 18,000 seats had not been filled up.

OJEE authorities had sent 54,000 rank cards to candidates who qualified at the state-level examination. The document verification and choice locking process had started on July 20 and ended August 1. During that period, around 21,000 students evinced interest by turning up at the various nodal centres set up across the state.

According to Priyabrat Sahoo, secretary of OJEE committee, every year several seats lie vacant in engineering colleges and so, it’s not a surprise. “Last year, only 17,000 students had taken part in the choice locking system. This year the number has improved significantly. There are fewer takers because of a huge gap in the total available seats in colleges and number of students eligible for admission in engineering streams,” he said.

Secretary of Orissa Private Engineering College Association (Opeca), Binod Dash, has urged the state government to allow individual colleges to conduct their own admissions to fill up the vacant seats.

“Thanks to a court order last year, we got the permission to conduct admissions on our own and 5,000 students were admitted in different engineering colleges. If the government allows us to do so this time too, the students who have appeared in the joint entrance examinations of other states also can take admission,” he said.

The provisional seat allotment in engineering colleges was earlier scheduled to take place on August 5. However, a case relating to minimum eligibility for admission into engineering courses is pending before the high court. The All-India Council of Technical Education (AICTE), the governing body for engineering colleges, had raised the eligibility to 50 per cent marks in Plus Two, which was challenged in the court by Opeca. For SC/ST students, the minimum qualification was increased to 45 per cent.

“We are expecting the high court judgment on August 5 after which we will be in a position to announce fresh dates for seat allotment. Before that, I cannot comment on anything since the matter is sub-judice,” said Sitaram Mohapatra, vice-chairman of OJEE committee.

Similarly, counselling for architecture has also been temporarily postponed because of an ongoing court case.

The counselling was scheduled to be held on July 16 but the high court put a stay order on it after authorities of Ajay Binay Institute of Technology (ABIT) in Cuttack challenged the eligibility criteria for admissions.

The institute had filed a petition saying the Council of Architecture fixed the National Aptitude Test in Architecture (Nata) scores as minimum qualification, but as per AICTE rules, 40 per cent of Nata score would be considered, but admission is to be done on the basis of OJEE rank.

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