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Talks call before IIT reforms

New Delhi, April 14: The panel of IIT directors that has recommended relying more on board examination scores than entrance test performances in picking students to engineering schools has also cautioned the government against rushing ahead with the reforms without adequate consultations.

In its report to human resource development minister Kapil Sibal, the panel has recommended detailed nationwide consultations before proceeding with reforms that can change the face of admissions to the IITs and all other engineering colleges.

The panel has recommended scrapping the IIT-Joint Entrance Examination, the All India Engineering Entrance Examination and state-specific entrance tests, and replacing them with a single aptitude test.

The panel has recommended that the IITs give 70 per cent weightage to board examination marks and 30 per cent weightage to performances in the aptitude test.

The aptitude test, which may also be employed to admit students to institutions other than engineering schools, can be computerised and students will be allowed multiple attempts, the panel has said in its report.

But it has advised caution in implementing the reforms. The panel has suggested detailed consultations and workshops with the state governments, other top engineering institutions like the National Institutes of Technology, and private universities.

The recommendations of the panel can be fine-tuned based on the outcome of the consultations, the team led by IIT Kharagpur director Damodar Acharya has suggested. The panel is likely to meet soon and may draw up a schedule for the consultations at that meeting.

The team which has IIT Bombay director Devang Khakhar, IIT Madras director M.S. Ananth and IIT Roorkee director S.C. Saxena as its members apart from Acharya may also ask Sibal to participate in the consultations.

“These reforms will affect each and every aspiring Indian engineer, his parents and all engineering institutions apart from state and central governments. There needs to be a detailed debate before these reforms can be implemented,” a member of the panel said.

One of the aspects of the proposed reforms to undergraduate engineering admissions that the panel and the ministry will need to fine-tune is the number of attempts to be offered to students.

At a meeting of the panel in Chennai on March 16 with representatives of state and central school boards, some participants suggested that rural students be given more opportunities than urban students. The participants proposed two attempts for urban students and three for rural students.

The panel and the HRD ministry will also need to convince state governments that the move to end state-specific engineering tests is not against their interests. Education is a concurrent subject under the Constitution and state governments may object, arguing that the Centre is encroaching on their turf by suggesting state tests be replaced with a national examination.

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