Nishant Gupta’s rank was 1,256 in the IIT joint entrance examination (advanced) — the second stage of the test — this year and he also scored 91.1% in the Andhra Pradesh board exam for class 12.
He was, however, denied admission to any IIT because his board marks did not figure in the top 20 percentile (top 20%), which was pegged at 91.8% for the Andhra Pradesh board.
“I got an offer to take up civil engineering at IIT-Bombay but it was cancelled because of the percentile factor. The standard of IITs will go down with such criteria. The government wanted a single exam but it has multiplied the number of exams,” Nishant said.
Yash Mehrotra was happy with his JEE (main, first stage) marks and was expecting a rank among the top 20,000 to get a seat in one of the National Institutes of Technology (NITs). His dream turned sour when he saw his rank a few weeks later.
The two are fighting legal cases.
The change in the old pattern for admission to engineering institutes, including the IITs this year has caused a lot of resentment among aspirants.
The need for change was articulated by various committees that felt students were ignoring tuition at school and focusing more on coaching institutes, and recommended giving some weight to the class 12 performance.
The government, therefore, decided to have two exams — JEE (main) and JEE (advanced) — from this year. The JEE (main) was a filtering exam in which the top 150,000 students were chosen to appear for the JEE (advanced), the gateway for admission to the IITs. The JEE (main) is for admitting students to NITs and centrally-funded technical institutes.
For admission to IITs, the eligibility criterion was changed from securing 60% in the board exam to being in the top 20 percentile.
This itself is flawed because the cuts-offs are highly differentiated, ranging from 91.8% for the Andhra board to 53% for the Tripura board.
Admission to NITs is similarly mired in a complicated system of weaving (called mapping) board percentiles with JEE marks.
While the system has confused students, those who performed well enough to be placed in a high board percentile but secured poor JEE (main) marks have benefited.
The purpose with which the changed pattern was introduced has not been realised. Candidates are stressed, coaching organisations have mushroomed and, instead of focusing on studies, students are lost in the world of percentiles, cut-offs and all that.
So, was there any need for a change?
Experts who were part of the brainstorming team for the change acknowledge that the new system has not attained its goals and should be dropped from next year.
“The formula is so complicated that even an educated person cannot understand it easily. The NITs and IITs should now evolve a common model for admissions next year. There is no need for an advanced exam,” said Sanjay Dhande, former director, IIT-Kanpur.
IIT-Kanpur professor Dheeraj Sanghi, a member of the JEE Interface Group, which finalised the formula for admission to NITs, agreed.
“I think normalisations -- converting board percentages into percentiles -- and mapping have created confusion. I support going back to the 2012 pattern in 2014 with one change. Instead of 60% eligibility one should have percentile-based eligibility. It could be 75 percentile for the IITs and 70 percentile for the NITs.”
IIT-Guwahati director Gautam Baruah pitched in to say corrective measures should be taken next year.