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Push for joint counselling in tech schools

New Delhi, Aug. 1: Delhi High Court today directed the Centre to ensure common counselling for IIT and NIT seats from next year and explore the possibility of lateral entry in the second year so that vacant seats can be filled up.

The bench of Chief Justice G. Rohini and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw issued the directive to the human resource development ministry on a petition from Rajeev Kumar, a teacher with IIT Kharagpur.

The court also asked the IITs and the ministry whether, by November 30 this year, the reserved category seats in the IITs that remain vacant could be transferred to the general category. It was not clear what the court proposed to do if such a transfer were possible.

At present, the IITs and the NITs hold their counselling separately. So, there is little co-ordination between the institutes and no mechanism to keep tabs on students taking admission to both.

Because of this system, a candidate can get offers both from an IIT and an NIT in quick succession. What then frequently happens is that the student blocks the IIT seat and then, if he makes it to an NIT of his choice, blocks that seat too.

At the last moment, he drops one, giving the institute little time to offer the seat to another candidate. As a result, about 600 seats were vacant in the NITs last year and 300 in the IITs. Every year, hundreds of seats remain vacant.

This year, the IIT admission process got over last week while that in the NITs is still under way.

If common counselling is started, a student will get an admission offer either from an IIT or an NIT at one time. He will not have the option to block seats in both institutions.

Last year, the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing had prepared the software for common counselling but the IITs had backed out at the last moment on the ground that there had been no trial run.

This year, the government pushed the system again but the IITs backed out again. The IITs are opposing the government order of June 2013 to create a common database of all candidates who clear the IIT and NIT entrance exams.

Such a database would alert both institutions about dual admissions and enable them to cancel one of the two, the petitioner’s lawyer Prashant Bhushan said. It would stop waste of “scarce” resources by ensuring that vacant seats go to other candidates, he said.

The high court said: “It is otherwise rather intriguing to know that the IITs and the NITs, which are providing consultancy to others on technical matters, are unable to themselves find a solution for synchronising the admissions to eliminate or at least minimise the issue of vacant seats.”

It added: “Certainly, they do not need years together to develop a programme for such synchronisation of admissions. They cannot afford any red tape in this regard and which, if becomes known to the world at large, may make them a laughing stock in the eyes of their clients. We have wondered whether it is a proverbial situation of it being darkest beneath the lamp.”

A source said the Centre and the IITs would also explore whether to allow student transfer from the NITs to the IITs, and from other engineering colleges to the NITs, in the second year.