IITs to adopt CAT for MBA programmes

IITs to adopt CAT for MBA programmes

New Delhi: In an interesting exercise in synergy, the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) have decided to abandon their decade-old entrance test for postgraduate management courses and adopt the exam conducted by the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs).

The move will also ease pressure on aspirants, who are required to appear for an array of tests every year.

The six older IITs at Mumbai, Delhi, Kanpur, Kharagpur, Chennai and Roorkee have decided to scrap their own joint national management test from next year. The six institutes run two-year, full-time postgraduate management programmes with an intake of about 600 students. The IIMs take in fewer than 3,000 students every year, but charge a substantially higher fee than the IITs.

“Yes, we have decided to do away with our test and will accept CAT (common admission test)," confirmed Deveng V. Khakhar, director at IIT Bombay, ending months of speculation.

The IIT national test is almost similar to CAT, “so there is no point duplicating exams", he said.

The move has come at a time when the Union government has suggested reducing the number of national-level entrance tests of similar nature to ease the stress on candidates.

Besides CAT, other well-known entrance exams for management education are XAT by the XLRI School of Business and Human Resources, Jamshedpur; MAT (management aptitude test) run by the All India Management Association; NMAT conducted by the Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies, Mumbai; the Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad Admission Test; the Symbiosis National Aptitude Test and the Graduate Management Admission Test.

Resources from many faculties are requisitioned for more than six months for the joint management entrance test, said a senior official from another IIT.

“When you conduct a national-level test for aspiring IIT minds, you have to prepare that way," the official said, requesting anonymity. “A number of faculties get involved and there is loss of teaching time. From question paper preparation to fixing the test centre, the process involves a lot of logistical hassles. When you have an alternative, it is better to go for it."

The official said that while the process is intensive, the turnout is not that huge. Last year, there were around 30,000 applicants for the IIT national test.

Leading Union government institutes, including the elite IITs, face a faculty crunch of as much as 33%. Stopping the exam would relieve some of the pressure on them.

CAT 2011 convenor Janakiraman Moorthy confirmed that the IITs are in touch on this issue.

“Both IIMs and IITs are great institutions and their coming together is good for all. This will also reduce another national test for selecting management students," said Moorthy, who is also a professor at IIM Calcutta. “We want more institutions to join us for selecting candidates for their institutions.

“A formal announcement will be made in a few days," he added.

Moorthy said the format has been revamped for CAT 2011 to some extent with the number of segments being lowered to two from three, with an emphasis on communication and analytical ability. This was an element in the test conducted by the IITs.

Students welcome the move. “IITs have really good management departments. If you don’t get older IIMs, but get a seat in IITs for the MBA, then you will not regret (it). Both of them making CAT as the common admission criteria is good for students like me," said Dipak Kumar, a CAT aspirant in New Delhi.

With IITs set to adopt CAT, the IIMs expect the number of test takers to increase. Last year, there were 204,000 CAT aspirants, while in 2009, the number was at least 242,000. “The numbers are expected to go up this time. With a better placement season last academic year, we are expecting a spiral," added Moorthy.

CAT 2011 starts on 22 October and ends on 18 November.

Experts also welcomed the move.

“This is a step in right direction as the best should do what they do best," said Narayanan Ramaswamy, executive director (education practice) at audit and consulting firm KPMG. “IIM-CAT is a proven test and IITs accepting CAT is like borrowing from the best. I believe entrance test is the first step and they should more often share faculties and material for their management courses. Running a national-level entrance involves huge expense. When CAT is already there, why redo it."