The Indian Institutes of Technology have decided to persist with radical changes to their admissions process from this year, despite concerns voiced by the Andhra Pradesh High Court that a key new selection criterion could disadvantage some students.
The country's premier engineering schools, at a meet of its Joint Admissions Board (JAB) - the top admissions body of the IITs - have decided to continue with a requirement that only students in the top 20 % of their school Boards in class XII examinations will be eligible for admissions.
The JAB meet was convened electronically in a hurry to diffuse potential confusion on the IIT Joint Entrance Examination (IIT-JEE) after the Andhra Pradesh HC passed an order on a petition by students who argued that the nature of Board examinations in some states disadvantaged them for IIT admissions. The students pointed out that while the new admission criterion consider only class XII Board scores, some states - like Andhra Pradesh - compute an aggregate score of class XI and XII performances.
They argued that as the IITs announced the new admission criteria only in late 2012 - after these students completed class XI - they were disadvantaged compared to students in boards that compute only class XII scores. The HC, while dismissing the suggestion of the petitioners that the new admission rules are "unconstitutional," asked the human resource development (HRD) ministry to examine these concerns.
But the HRD ministry has convinced the Andhra Pradesh government to provide student scores in only class XII to the IITs, to allow them to compute the eligibility of candidates for admissions.
"Yes, it's true that we only announced the new admissions criteria in 2012, after most students who will appear for the 2013 IIT-JEE completed class XI, but that's a challenge every student will face," a senior IIT administrator involved with this year's examination told HT. "No one's at any disadvantage."
The IITs admit about 10,000 students each year to the 18 institutes that carry their brand name, through the IIT-JEE, widely considered among the toughest entrance examinations in the world.
Till 2012, students only needed to obtain 60% in their class XII Board examination to be eligible for IIT admissions, if they cleared the entrance test.
But based on recommendations of multiple expert panels that concluded that the relatively easy board score eligibility was making students ignore school studies for IIT preparations, the government and the engineering schools last year decided to change their admissions process.
Students will need to clear two examinations - a "main" test followed by an "advanced" test - and also emerge among the top 20 % students in the class XII exam conducted by their board - to get into the IITs.