Deepesh Dhoundiyal's gamble in leaving a secure job in an insecure economy to study for the Common Admission Test (CAT) appeared to have paid off mid-January when his test score placed him among the top 1,000 candidates.
Less than a month later, the Delhi-based engineer is distraught, sitting at home preparing for job interviews, his dream of studying at the prestigious Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) shattered despite a 99.49 percentile CAT score.
About 9,000 students with CAT scores below his will, however, be appearing for the second stage of IIM admissions.
A draft of pre-exam criteria that the IIMs either changed or never disclosed till after the CAT results were announced, as HT reported on Wednesday, have denied 24-year-old Dhoundiyal and others like him seats.
"I would never have quit my job if I knew that the IIMs would set eligibility criteria that my past academic records do not allow me to meet irrespective of my CAT score. Why couldn't the IIMs announce these criteria earlier," asked Dhoundiyal, who worked in Ahmedabad at a top oil and petroleum firm.
These students - with CAT 2010 scores of over 99 percentile but denied calls for the second stage of IIM admissions because of unspecified or changed pre-exam criteria - are forming a group and plan to approach the Supreme Court to seek a stay on the second stage of IIM admissions.
The eligibility was listed -and is still listed on the official CAT website - as 50% in the bachelor's degree.
But the IIMs in Rohtak, Trichy and Shillong announced higher bachelor's degree marks as eligibility criteria to be considered, after the CAT results were announced.
These higher criteria varied from 65% in IIMs in Rohtak and Trichy to 87% in IIM Shillong.
The other IIMs are calculating eligibility for the second stage of admissions using weightages given to class X, class XII and bachelor's degree scores also announced after the declaration of CAT results.
Top IIM officials are accepting that the students may have a "legitimate argument," but are insisting that there had been no discrimination.