New Delhi: The Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) have opposed a plan to change the way they select students and said they weren’t in favour of picking them on the basis of class XII exams and an aptitude test.

New arena: A file photo of IIT Kharagpur campus. According to government officials, the institute wants to start MBBS courses and even plans to open a hospital. Indranil Bhoumik/Mint

A panel under department of science and technology secretary T. Ramasamy will examine the issue, the minister said.

“The committee will discuss it with faculties and state boards before devising a plan and submit it within three months," Sibal said.

There are 15 IITs, but the seven older ones—Delhi, Kharagpur, Guwahati, Roorkee, Bombay, Madras and Kanpur—form the core of the council. The eight new ones established in the last two years are being mentored by the older IITs. Over 472,000 students vied for nearly 10,000 undergraduate seats in all the IITs this academic year.

The human resource development (HRD) ministry wants the IITs to pick students just on the basis of Class 12 exam marks and an aptitude test. But that view wasn’t backed up in the report submitted at the meeting by an HRD panel led by IIT Kharagpur director D. Acharya, which favours having the additional test along with an aptitude test and weightage to the class XII exam.

“JEE is a good format and this is helping in filtering students well. Till a suitable system evolves, it cannot be done away with," IIT Roorkee director S.C. Saxena said.

Sibal referred to another suggestion at the meeting for separate aptitude tests at the state school board level, with the top performers at this going on to an IIT aptitude test.

There was a consensus view however, that JEE and the All India Engineering/Architecture Entrance Exam (AIEEE) “has to change" to reduce the burden on students.

“There were some other proposals, too, but our ministry is of the view that the students should not be stressed because of too many tests," the minister said.

The IITs agreed that they needed to recruit faculty and admit students from overseas to gain an international flavour.

“Faculty crunch is an issue and all IITs have agreed to hire 10% faculty from foreign countries and benefit from their global perspective. They also want to take 25% students from other countries but only at the postgraduation level. But this 25% will be above the current strength," the minister said.

Sibal said his ministry will consult the home ministry on this issue, as the current law does not allow foreign nationals to get permanent jobs in the government-run institutio-ns. “There needs to be some change and the security related issue has to be taken care of."

The ministry also said all the IITs were critical of cram schools as they contend “it is detrimental in getting quality students."

He, however, said that his ministry has no plan to bringing any legislation in this regard. “We don't have any plan to regulate the coaching centres or bring in a legislation in this regard. With exam reforms, coaching will become redundant," he told Mint.

The council decided that the IITs should set up centres specializing in strategic and policy research that will serve as an advisory forum in key areas. The council also discussed adding academicians of eminence in the fields of science, engineering, industry and the social sciences to the board of governors.

Another proposal was the inclusion of the chairman of the Prime Minister’s scientific advisory council, the president of the Indian National Science Academy and the president of the Indian National Academy of Engineering on the IIT council. The IIT Council will meet again in January 2011.