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Dhanbad, Roorkee axe dual degrees

- ISM, IIT respond to poor student response, cut down vacant seats

New Delhi, July 29: Poor students’ response has led premier engineering cradles like Indian School of Mines (ISM), Dhanbad, and IIT-Roorkee to discontinue dual degree courses, an affidavit filed in response to a PIL on reforming the admission system has revealed.

IIT-Kharagpur, which coordinated the JEE-Advanced entrance exams this year, filed an affidavit in Delhi High Court on July 18 in response to the PIL stating that certain courses had been discontinued at ISM-Dhanbad and IIT-Roorkee since “student interest had declined on a consistent basis”.

While ISM-Dhanbad has dropped BTech & MTech in petroleum engineering and MTech in mining engineering and MBA, IIT-Roorkee has decided to do away with BTech in pulp and paper technology from this year.

“The evaluation and removal of such courses is an ongoing process and helps in reduction of vacancies from time to time,” said the affidavit filed by JEE-Advanced chairman professor M.K. Panigrahi.

The PIL was filed by professor Rajeev Kumar of IIT- Kharagpur seeking reforms in the JEE system. Recently, he appealed to the court to direct IITs to take steps to ensure that seats did not remain vacant in IITs and ISM-Dhanbad.

Every year, around 300 seats remain vacant in the IITs and ISM-Dhanbad since students block the berths and quit if they get a “better” branch of study in NITs (National Institute of Technology) later.

The admission process and counselling are conducted separately by IITs and NITs. The NITs conduct counselling after the IITs complete theirs.

There was a proposal for joint counselling in IITs and NITs from this year. However, it is yet to be implemented.

The court passed an order on July 21, asking IITs to explain why they could not give admission to students till the end of August, by when admissions into NITs were completed. The matter will be heard soon.

However, what has come to light because of the litigation is that some courses were losing popularity among students.

Professor G. Uday Bhanu, who looks after admissions at ISM-Dhanbad, said that these two courses, launched in 2006, had 18 seats each and the students were getting dual degrees.

But, the response of students has remained poor from beginning. ISM-Dhanbad has a separate BTech course in petroleum engineering and a BTech programme in mining engineering.

A student has to spend five years in the dual degree programme without an exit option. In petroleum engineering, a student would get BTech and MTech while in the other programme, a student used to get MTech in mining engineering with MBA. The institute is offering MBA separately, too

Students are admitted through JEE. ISM-Dhanbad noticed that students, who were admitted through JEE, ended up joining the programme only if they weren’t selected for any other course in IITs or NITs.

“These two programmes used to be the last choice of students,” Uday Bhanu said.

IIT-Roorkee’s BTech in pulp and paper technology has about 70 seats. The director, professor Pradipta Banerji, and the deputy director, professor S.P. Gupta, weren’t available for comment.