The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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To BE with Delhi or state

Calcutta, Jan. 12: The Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government and the BJP-led Centre have clashed over controlling admission to Bengal Engineering College, a deemed university, affecting nearly 50,000 students.

For the first time, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), which conducts national-level Joint Entrance Examinations — under instruction from Murli Manohar Joshi’s human resources development ministry — has invited applications from students all over India for admission to BE College.

Application forms for the national-level JEE, slated for May, are being distributed over the past two days through the branches of a nationalised bank and they show BE College on the list of institutions under the CBSE’s joint entrance system. This means students seeking admission to BE College will have to clear the test conducted by the CBSE.

The Bengal government, too, is distributing application forms saying that students will be required to take the test conducted by the state JEE board. The state considers the college to be its own turf because it spends nearly Rs 15 crore on it every year.

The tussle has left nearly 50,000 students — the approximate number of applicants in Bengal for seats in BE College, Jadavpur University and other engineering institutions — in utter confusion.

“We don’t understand which exam we will be required to clear to study at BE College,” said Asitava Mukherjee, a student who will appear in the CBSE test.

“They (state government) are firm about admitting students to BE College coming through the state JEE route. But we don’t know whether the government is going to accept applications of students who qualify in the CBSE’s JEE,” said Mukta Jain, another candidate.

Amal Jyoti Sengupta, the chairman of the state joint entrance board, bears out the apprehension.

“We are surprised to find BE College on the list of CBSE-JEE. Neither the state government nor the state JEE board had any prior information. We will not allow the CBSE to establish control on admission to BE College,” said Sengupta, who is also vice-chancellor of BE College.

Sources close to higher education minister Satyasadhan Chakraborty said last year the Centre had proposed putting the college on the CBSE-JEE list, but it was turned down by the state on the grounds that fewer students from Bengal would get the opportunity to study there.

“The college stands on our property and we pay the teachers. So, our students have a greater right to study there,” Chakraborty is learnt to have said.

But the Centre has warned that it would not allot funds to upgrade the college to a “national centre of excellence” if the state did not play ball.

Central bodies like the University Grants Commission and the All-India Council for Technical Education provide several crores to the college for research.

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