Combined JEE from next year - Weightage to board marks will hurt Bengal students: IIT teacher

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By BASANT KUMAR MOHANTY
  • Published 29.05.12
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New Delhi, May 28: A combined exam will be held for admission to all central engineering institutes including the IITs from next year with a substantial weightage given to Class XII board marks, a move that some academics said would hurt rural and Bengal students.

Human resource development minister Kapil Sibal today announced the decision amid grumblings from the IIT Faculty Federation, which had opposed the weightage to board marks and wanted the combined test put off by at least a year.

The argument against the weightage to board marks was that the various state and central boards followed different standards of evaluation.

In particular, an IIT Kharagpur teacher said, students from Bengal will lose out because of their state board’s famed lack of generosity in awarding marks.

“It is tough to attain even 60 per cent marks in the Bengal exam but students from many other states easily score over 80 per cent,” he said.

Rural students from across India too will be handicapped, said Anand Kumar, whose organisation in Patna provides free coaching to impoverished students. “Going by the standard of education in rural schools, village children will find it extremely difficult to crack the new JEE because weightage will be given to board marks,” he said.

Kumar said rural students were less disadvantaged when it came to the standard of the coaching centres that prepared them for the IIT-JEE, which has been abolished from next year.

The IIT-JEE, which was conducted solely by the IITs, will now be merged with the All India Engineering Entrance Examination that was held for admission to other centrally funded technical institutions such as the NITs and IIITs. (See chart)

The new exam, to be known simply as the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE), will have two sections, the JEE Main and the JEE Advanced, to be held on the same day.

Sibal claimed the combined test would reduce the burden of multiple entrance exams on the students. He said the weightage given to board marks would ensure that students did not neglect their schoolwork and help reduce the emphasis on private coaching to crack the JEE.

But Kumar said the new system would burden the candidates further by testing them at three stages and boost private coaching. “A student will have to do well in the board exam, the JEE Main as well as the JEE Advanced. Private coaching will flourish, with the students now taking coaching classes for all the three exams,” he said.

Two-tier selection

The new system faced strong opposition from the IIT teachers, who wanted the IIT-JEE to continue for now.

As a kind of sop to these 15 premier institutes, the government has allowed them a two-tier selection procedure till 2014, with the JEE Advanced acting as a de facto IIT-JEE.

First, the IITs will assess candidates on the basis of the JEE Main and their Class XII marks, giving equal weightage to both. Around 50,000 students, nearly five times the number of IIT seats, will be selected through this preliminary screening and become eligible for admission.

However, their rank on the merit list would depend solely on their performance in the tougher JEE Advanced, which will be handled by the IITs’ Joint Admission Board, which conducted the IIT-JEE. (The JEE Main will be overseen by an academic group with representatives from the IITs, NITs, IIITs and state governments, and will receive administrative and logistical support from the CBSE.)

The other 40-odd central technical institutes will follow a much simpler formula: they will give 40 per cent weightage to students’ Class XII marks and 30 per cent each to JEE Main and Advanced to prepare their merit list.

The IIT directors, however, have agreed to adopt this simpler method and drop the two-tier formula by 2015. “The kind of academic training and education imparted in the IITs is very different from that in other institutions. The intake has to be different accordingly,” IIT Kanpur director S.G. Dhande explained.

Sibal appeared unconvinced. “The truth is, there is a lot of resistance from the IITs. They probably have a point of view which I do not understand. But they have agreed that they will transit to the 40-30-30 weightage procedure by 2015,” he said.

He said Gujarat, Maharashtra and Haryana had agreed to adopt the JEE for admission to their engineering colleges. The states are free to adopt the new JEE and have the autonomy to decide the relative weightages to give to the board marks, Main and Advanced exams, Sibal said.

Unhappy IITs

The new system was adopted following go-aheads from the IIT Council and NIT Council, which are responsible for policy decisions for these institutes and are both chaired by Sibal. But the IIT Faculty Federation was “unhappy” because the institutes’ senates had been bypassed and filed a note of dissent, its secretary A.K. Mittal said.

Sibal said the decision would be brought before the June 5 meeting of the Central Advisory Board of Education, which has the state education ministers as its members. If approved there, the proposal may get wider acceptance nationally.

Fresh HS chance

Students who passed their Class XII boards this year but wish to improve their scores can take the exam again next year while continuing to study in colleges and not losing a year. In case they do worse in the 2013 exam, they can stick to their 2012 scores.