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Since 1st March, 1999
 
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Clearing those digital doubts

Biswanath Chakraborty ranked 72nd in engineering in the West Bengal Joint Entrance Exam (WBJEE) but is still very apprehensive. “I am really worried as I have no idea how the online counselling process will work,” says the 17-year-old former student of DAV Public School in Midnapore. This is the first time that students who cracked WBJEE will take part in online counselling to choose the engineering colleges they want admission to. Usually, the WBJEE board holds three rounds of face-to-face interviews to help students select courses in colleges based on their respective ranks. Students who are not that familiar with computers are very jittery about the new process. They are especially concerned that they will have no one to guide them.

WBJEE Board chairman Bhaskar Gupta has a word of reassurance. “We’ll have help centres at the block level covering all of West Bengal. The moment (online) counselling or e-admission starts, these help centres would become operational. We expect that to be in early June.” The board is also considering uploading a video on YouTube to explain the process.

What exactly is online counselling or e-admission? Students have to register on a website (wbjeeb.nic.in, which is now under construction), fill in their options and lock them, all within a window of 21 days. After a couple of days they will get to know which college they have gained admission to.

“In the normal counselling process, students had to take decisions in a couple of minutes. Though they were shown what choices they had, according to me those one or two minutes are not enough to choose a department wisely,” says Tirthankar Dutta, vice-principal, MCKV Institute of Engineering, Howrah. “In online counselling, students get a lot more time to choose. Also, parents and guardians can now take an active part in the decision making process. They can even book their seats from home!”

What of those who don’t have a computer at home? “Most high ranking students are usually from the districts and many of them will have to depend on cyber cafes for e-counselling,” says Jagannath Banerjee, director, Academy of Technology (AOT), Adisaptagram. “But in district towns such as Bankura, bandwidth is a problem and Internet connections are very slow.” In places with uncertain Internet connections, students should make sure that they save at very step.

And if the cyber café too is rather far away, head to the nearest government office. “There are computers with an Internet facility in every district magistrate’s office, block development office as well as in the 26,000 panchayat offices. They have already been instructed to help students,” says Dutta, who feels that students from remote places in Bengal are quite capable of handling computers.

Dhurjati Banerjee, chairman of the Association of Professional Academic Institutes (APAI), West Bengal, a representative body of private engineering colleges, admits that there are bound to be some hitches, especially since “people in the state are not that Net savvy as they don’t have enough digital access. They prefer to book tickets and pay bills in the conventional way; electronic kiosks don’t work well here, unlike in the south Indian states where e-counselling started two years ago. There’s a lack of confidence in online technology in these parts.”

“That students in West Bengal, especially from the vernacular medium, are not that Net savvy was proven by the that many still preferred the pen and paper format of the All India Engineering Entrance Exam (AIEEE) to the online version,” points out Banerjee, director of AOT.

So the students may have a lot of questions. They should just head to the FAQ section on wbjeeb.nic.in, which will explain the process. They have to first register with the website using their WBJEE enrolment number and their academic particulars. The registration process will start after the Higher Secondary results are declared.

To help students tackle the confusion around the online process, APAI is organising awareness camps in association with professors of Jadavpur University. At the camps, the e-admission process will be demonstrated on a 100 special computers. Private institutes such as AOT, MCKV and Gargi Memorial Institute of Technology in Baruipur are also gearing up to organise a series of seminars and workshops on the process in early June.

“The new engineering colleges in the districts will be at a disadvantage so we’re asking them to self publicise,” says Banerjee of APAI.

The better known private engineering colleges too are doing their bit. “Institute of Engineering and Management (IEM) is organising awareness camps and booths to help students during the counselling process,” says Satyajit Chakrabarti, director of IEM, Calcutta, who lauded WBJEE Board’s new initiative.

Others involved with private engineering colleges aren’t as enthusiastic. Says the director of a district-based engineering college who did not want to be named, “E-counselling is good but will create some confusion. Theoretically a student, irrespective of his or her rank, can opt for any institute. For instance, a student ranked 22,000 can choose top-ranked colleges like JU and BESU. He or she can even opt for different departments (computer science, electronics, civil and so on) of these top colleges in all the options because theoretically there’s a slim chance of getting into these colleges. Once he opts for these, the system will get locked and he will be able to see the final outcome only after 15 days. But there is a high chance he will get rejected by all opted streams and fails to get admitted to any college.” In other words, unlike previous years a student won’t be able to choose a college based on what is available to him based on his rank.

“To ensuring allotment, candidates should calculate the overall seats available in various courses vis-a-vis their own rank to arrive at the optimum number of choices they should fill. The system will be user friendly and the candidates can fill in choices easily. Registration and choice filling will run in parallel for more than two weeks so that candidates get enough time to make an informed choice,” says Abhik Mukherjee, associate professor, CST department, BESU.

Warns WBJEE Board chairman Gupta, “Since every candidate is free to give as many choices as available, if a student with a low rank opts for only a few choices, he or she may end up getting none of them. So it is advisable, particularly for lower ranked students, to fill in a large number of choices.”

Hopefully, going through the official guidelines will help all those confused students out there.

A to Z of e-allotment

The process broadly involves the following stages:

1 Online registration

2 Online choice filling and locking

3 Online seat allotment and reporting to a reporting centre (RC)

4 Admission to allotted institution

REGISTRATION

If you get a rank in WBJEE, you can register at wbjeeb.nic.in and get a login and password generated by the system. You also have to key in the marks you got in the Plus Two exam. These will be validated during remote admission and any misinformation will mean disqualification. An e-challan will be generated through which you have to deposit INR 500 in the bank (CBS-enabled UBI branches only) and enter the transaction details into the system. That completes the registration process.

CHOICE FILLING

Now you have to put in the name of your most preferred department in the institute of your choice. You can see the seat matrix showing overall availability and those with additional benefits (like SC, ST, PH) are shown the total seats available in the open category as well as to the category specific to them. Make sure you fill in an adequate number of choices (first preference, second preference, third preference and so on ). Theoretically, you can fill in all possible choices in order of preference.

Calculate the number of overall seats available vis-a-vis your rank to arrive at the optimum number of choices to ensure allotment. The lower your rank, the more choices you should fill (fifteenth preference, sixteenth preference ...) Registration and choice filling will run in parallel for about two weeks so you will get enough time to choose properly.

CHOICE LOCKING

The system will give indications from time to time about possible seats based on the choices filled by other candidates till that point. Such indications can be considered a guideline though the final scenario may change. Finally, you have to lock your choices, for which a short window period of five days will be given. Once locked, no further modifications are allowed.

SEAT ALLOTMENT LOGIC

The system will allot a seat for each rank holder in descending order, based on his or her preference. If a seat is not available for the first choice, the system will check for the next one and so on until seats in a preferred course are available. The candidate will then be informed through SMS, email and can also check by logging into the system. For candidates with additional benefits, general category vacancy is first considered, followed by those specific to their category.

REMOTE ADMISSION

At the end of the process, those allotted a seat have to report to the remote reporting centres set up in each district. After verification of documents there, they can seek admission. At this point they can also indicate whether they want to be upgraded to an institute further up in their list of choices in case there is a vacancy .

FURTHER ROUNDS

In the second round, the unallotted seats are allotted to those who requested for an upgrade and to those who did not get any seats in the first round. For example, if you decide to choose only courses in government engineering colleges (GEC), you may not get an allotment in the first round but that does not mean you are out of the system. You may get a seat in the second round based on vacancies reported and upgrades sought by candidates ranked above you. Candidates who sought to upgrade at the end of the first round may stick to their allotment after the second round or choose to remain in the

FRAY TILL THE FINAL CALL IS MADE.

The system runs one more round (third round) before which seat conversions based on category-wise remainder to open category is done. The round is run internally till the system stabilises i.e. either few seats remain vacant with no more takers available or all seats are full.

WITHDRAWAL OF CANDIDATURE:

For admission, you have to deposit a certain amount of money, depending on whether you get a seat in a government college or a private one. If you then want to withdraw, you will get a full refund if you withdraw before the third round because then the seat becomes available to others. But if you withdraw after the allotment process is complete, then you forfeit the deposit.

DOs & DON'Ts

1 Do not be whimsical in choosing your college and course. Be attentive. On-line counselling process is software-governed and logic driven. Even the last option chosen by your previous rank holders will have priority over your first one.

2 You need 60 per cent in classes X and XII (not just in physics, chemistry and maths) to be eligible for campus placement in almost every company. If you do not have the prerequisite marks, it is advisable to think twice about taking up engineering.

3 Choosing a college just by the opening and closing ranks of last years’ candidates or only on available streams may not be a good idea. You must assess the infrastructural and learning resources, faculty, teaching-learning process and placement assistance provided by the college carefully.

4 A few colleges, where not even a single batch has graduated, boast of spectacular placement stories and placement partners displayig company logos on their websites. Be cautious of them.

5 Most colleges rely solely on one or two IT houses for placement. Prefer those colleges that have consistent track record of providing ample opportunities in IT and other core sectors. This will enhance your chance for placement.