Common entrance exam for engineering stream: State unlikely to agree.

The IIT Joint Council’s decision to hold a joint entrance exam for IITs and NITs is unlikely to affect the fortunes of engineering aspirants in Tamil Nadu. And, the State is unlikely to agree to a common entrance exam for all engineering colleges anytime in the immediate future.

“The mindset of majority of the students and parents is rooted to studying in prestigious colleges in the State. One of the prime reasons is that the students are not taught in schools to take national competitive exams seriously. The school curriculum is more focussed on rote based and exam oriented learning than on analytical or logical reasoning,” says a former commissioner of technical education.

“Besides, the parents also are not interested in sending their children to far away places but prefer to pay capitation to enrol them in any of the deemed universities or under management quota in self-financing engineering colleges so that their children could live with them,” he says.

Over the years, the number of students aspiring to IITs and NITs by taking the JEE or AIEEE has not increased much. In the meantime, the State Government had scrapped the entrance exam to professional courses from the academic year 2005-06 to enable more students from rural background join engineering education which has taken away the competitive edge from the students.

This year, 71,229 students out of the 1.04 lakh students admitted through single window to over 500 engineering colleges were rural candidates and as many as 62,749 were first generation graduates and 48,153 were from Tamil medium background in higher secondary education. Academics feel the government was wise to take away entrance exam as the number of seats available in engineering is more than that of the takers and this year, 50,000 seats fell vacant.

“The Chief Minister has already opposed the common entrance text for all engineering colleges as it would affect students from rural areas in the State,” says P. Palaniappan, Higher Education Minister.

“Even if the State agrees in future with 50 per cent as home quota, the Centre will have to conduct the all India exam in Tamil also. AIEEE is conducted only in English and Hindi. No one is raising the issue of the need for national exams in regional languages as well. Otherwise, over three lakh students in the State clearing Plus 2 in science stream in Tamil medium will not have access to all India exams,” says D. Nedunchezhian, a social entrepreneur.

Weightage to Plus 2 marks

The Centre’s decision to give weightage to Class XII marks for the common entrance test for IITs and NITs is seen as a reform among academics, especially in IIT Madras.

Says Prof. V.G. Idichandy, Director (Officiating), IIT-M, “many professors for long have been arguing for giving Plus 2 marks due consideration in admissions to IITs. The good students were not in schools and they were not learning other subjects than maths, physics and chemistry. Humanities and languages were totally neglected.”

Academics say that the students missed school education to stay in places like Hyderabad and Kota for two to three years for coaching which had to be stopped as otherwise school education would become irrelevant. The weightage to Plus 2 marks is a reform definitely happening, they add.

On the proposed fee hike, the IIT-M faculty say that only 25 per cent of the students pay the fee and the tuition fee of others are subsidised. Besides, they say there are many options like bank loans and as per the new proposal ‘pay back’ after employment.

“The students have taken notice of the fee hike. There is a discussion on it around the campus. Only after consultation with our faculty and parents, a clear opinion will emerge,” says Prasanth, Academic Affairs Secretary, IIT-M.

Source : The Hindu

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