The National Institutes of Technology may no longer give weightage to Class XII board marks while admitting BTech students from next year if the institutions and the government have their way.
An NIT director said the institutes, along with other centrally funded technical institutions (CFTIs) like the Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IIITs), were more likely to admit students on the basis of their JEE Advanced score - like the IITs do.
"There will be no need for giving weightage to board marks," the director told this newspaper.
Under the existing system, the IITs admit students based on how they perform in the JEE Advanced, the second exam in the two-tier test after the CBSE-conducted JEE Main.
Over 12 lakh students appear for the JEE Main, but only the top two lakh are eligible to take the JEE Advanced.
While the IITs don't give weightage to board marks, aspirants need to score at least 75 per cent in their board exam or be among the top 20 percentile holders - irrespective of their performance in JEE Advanced - to be eligible for selection.
The NITs, IIITs and a few other engineering institutions - which don't follow any eligibility criteria but could introduce cut-offs once the weightage for board marks goes - have been admitting students on the basis of a 60:40 system. Under this system, 60 per cent weightage is given to the JEE Main score and 40 per cent to Class XII board marks.
The idea behind the weightage for board marks, introduced under the earlier government, was students would focus more on school education instead of private tuitions to crack entrance exams.
But two panels set up by this government, one headed by IIT Bombay director Devang Khakhar and another by Rajat Moona, director-general, Centre for Development of Advanced Computing, had recommended scrapping the weightage for board marks while admitting students to the NITs from 2016.
The Moona committee found that the percentage of students taking private coaching had increased after the system of giving weightage to board marks was introduced.
The HRD ministry then set up another panel, headed by IIT Roorkee chairman Ashok Misra. In its report submitted last November, this committee, too, said the weightage given to board marks now for NIT admissions should be scrapped and there should be one engineering entrance test, possibly from 2018.
But aspiring engineers, this panel said, should have to clear a SAT-like National Aptitude Test to be eligible to appear for the entrance exam.
Sources in the HRD ministry said there was agreement among the IITs and other CFTIs that from 2017, students should be admitted based on how they did in their JEE Advanced.
The NIT director this paper spoke to said the JEE Main was likely to stay in 2017, but as a filter for the JEE Advanced.
The Mishra committee suggested that the government set up a national testing service (NTS) as an independent body to conduct the aptitude test, modelled on the SAT, held for admissions to US colleges.
HRD ministry sources said the NTS might be set up this year and start operating from 2018. The aptitude tests, they added, might be held more than once every year so that students can improve their performance.