HindustanTimes Sun,21 Sep 2014
Is common counselling in JEE a good idea?
Gauri Kohli , Hindustan Times
New Delhi, February 07, 2014
First Published: 11:51 IST(7/2/2014)
Last Updated: 11:14 IST(12/2/2014)

A proposal by the human resource development ministry may leave some engineering aspirants worried and confused. The ministry is mulling the possibility of holding common counselling for admission to the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), the National Institutes of Technology (NITs) and some state-run engineering institutions meant to address vacancies at these institutes. But a few aspirants feel it may reduce choices they could make between these institutions.

“In the existing format, the students have a choice between the IITs and NITs, through different counselling rounds. With some of the new IITs being established after the NITs, many students who are unsure about joining these new IITs opt for an NIT instead,” says Jai Dhingra, an aspirant.

What’s in store
Sources in the HRD ministry told HT Education that the idea of combining JEE Main and JEE Advanced was also discussed when the JEE reforms were being planned. “But with the new JEE format introduced in 2013, it was agreed that these reforms must be implemented in a phased manner. This is why we are only proposing to initiate the process of joint counselling in 2014 to begin with,” says a senior HRD ministry official, adding that whether the Main and Advanced exams of the JEE are eventually combined will also depend on several other factors, including the outcome of the general elections in May this year.

The process of implementing common counselling will be discussed further with the IITs and officials from the Central Board of Secondary Education, says the official. “Variations between joint or common counselling, such as the common choice filling format, will be explored after discussions with the Joint Admission Board to find the best solution. It’s a fairly complex process because the IITs pattern is different from the NITs which is more Class 12 based. Both systems are disparate and look for different kind of candidates,” he adds.

Will it work?
Experts say that one exam should be good enough to judge a candidate. “There should be better coordination between NITs, IITs and within IITs, with a certain amount of openness. This can be achieved through credit transfers and allowing greater mobility of students within these institutions. Creating stages to shortlist students will not do any good,” says professor SK Dhande, former director, IIT Kanpur.

The JEE 2014 organising committee, however, feels that common counselling may not be a feasible idea. “On what grounds this has been proposed is not known to us. In a meeting of the Joint Admissions Board in September 2013, it was decided that JEE 2014 will be the same as JEE 2013 without any change. As an implementing agency, we are following this directive. The counselling schedule for seat allocation has already been published and we will go as per what has been decided. We have not been told about how it is going to be done but we will be meeting officials from the HRD ministry on February 5, 2014 to discuss it,” says a member of the JEE 2014 organising committee, requesting anonymity. 

According to him, common counselling is not actually ‘common’ because of the fact that there are a large number of candidates who are only eligible for admission to the NITs and other state-run engineering institutions. “There are about 13 lakh candidates appearing for JEE Main. The number of candidates who are given ranks is close to 3.5 lakh (they are eligible to give their choices for various NIT courses). About 15,000 students will feature in JEE (Advanced) merit lists. The remaining 3.35 lakh will only be in JEE Main merit list and are only eligible for NIT and state lists. Out of the 1.5 lakh candidates who write the JEE (Advanced), the number of candidates selected is 1.4 times the total strength of seats at the 16 IITs and ISM Dhanbad. About 15,000 are allowed to fill their choices for different IIT and ISM programmes. Whereas, the number of candidates who apply for the NIT seats is much more than 15,000. There are two different exams, ranking systems and rules for seat allocation, so how can there be common ­counselling?” he asks.

What next?

# Admission to NITs, IIITs and other institutions participating though Central Counselling Board in JEE 2014 will be based on all-India rank. Under the existing format, first the IITs conduct student counselling, followed by the NITs and others. Experts say that candidates who get admission offers from an IIT as well as an NIT, prefer to opt for the IIT seat while awaiting their choice of subjects in an NIT. By the time a candidate takes a final call about joining an institute, it is tough for the institutions to fill up the vacant seats

# JEE 2014 committee members say that there are two different exams and set of rules for seat allocation, so the idea of common counselling is not feasible

# According to the JEE 2014 committee, the counselling schedules have already been decided. A final call will be taken after a meeting with HRD ministry officials on February 5

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