SOURCE: INDIAN EXPRESS
Three years after the UPA-2 government made sweeping changes to the admission process at top engineering institutes of the country, an expert panel appointed by its successor government has recommended another set of changes, including a single entrance examination for both IITs and NITs, no weightage to school board marks, and a compulsory aptitude test. The committee, headed by academic Ashok Mishra, has suggested that JEE (Main) and JEE (Advanced) should be merged into a single entrance exam, conducted by the IITs and intended to test a candidate’s knowledge of physics, chemistry and mathematics. Currently, JEE (Main), meant for admission to the NITs, is conducted by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), and JEE (Advanced) by the IITs.
The recommendations were made public on Saturday for further consultation with stakeholders. The HRD Ministry has not announced a timeframe to decide on the matter, but has clarified that JEE 2016 will be conducted in the same way as now, and that the 40 per cent weightage for Class 12 marks for admission to NITs would continue. The only change would be that the top 2 lakh candidates, instead of 1.5 lakh, in JEE (Main) will qualify to sit for JEE (Advanced). The process of admissions to IITs and NITs was overhauled completely in 2013 after then HRD Minister Kapil Sibal persuaded engineering institutes to give weightage to a candidate’s school performance. This was done to help students focus on their school education, and to wean them away from coaching classes. A review by the institutions three years on has shown that this decision has made little difference to the tuition industry, whose hold on aspirants has, in fact, increased. The IITs and NITs are in favour of scrapping the weightage to board marks. The Ashok Mishra committee was set up to study this proposal, and examine the feasibility of a single entrance test for IITs and NITs. The aptitude test suggested by the committee is intended to test candidates’ inclination for science and innovative thinking. Passing the test will be a prerequisite for appearing for JEE, the report states. The aptitude test, designed to weaken the coaching culture, could be offered two or more times in a year, and a National Testing Service should be set up next year to conduct it, the panel has suggested. Based on their performance in the aptitude test, about 400,000 candidates shall be shortlisted to take the JEE, which will be on the lines of the current JEE (Advanced). Ranks will be issued to 40,000+ students who can seek admission based on a common counseling, it said. It also suggested that IITs be requested to develop mock JEE exams to help students prepare, and to wean them away from the coaching industry.