Home / Politics / No govt interference in IIT eligibility criteria, says Sibal

New Delhi: Human resource development minister Kapil Sibal said on Tuesday that the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) will decide criteria for the test of admission to IITs on their own, without government interference, as the prospect of tougher eligibility conditions raised anger in Bihar.

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar wrote a letter to Sibal arguing that the proposal could work against the interests of a certain section of students. Sibal said on Monday that he would like the eligibility criteria for the IIT-joint entrance examination (JEE) to be raised to 80-85% marks in the class XII boards, from 60% currently.

“The eligibility criteria has to be decided by the IITs," Sibal said, confirming that he had received the letter from Kumar. “The government has no role to play in it."

Bihar’s opposition Lok Janshakti Party leader Ram Vilas Paswan also hit out at the announcement of tougher eligibility criteria, saying in Patna that it was “anti-poor and will lead to discontent among the students". He said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should intervene and kill the proposal.

Bihar’s capital Patna is home to at least 1,000 coaching institutes that train students for JEE, promising them a seat in IIT that acts as a passport to a dream job. In 2008, Patna school student Shitikanth, who uses only his first name, secured the top spot in the entrance exam. That was 27 years after a Bihar student made it to the merit list.

In recent years, at least 1,000 students from the state have made it to the IITs, with more than half the number coached at the home-grown training institutes.

Sibal said on Monday that IITs, which are seeking to improve the quality of their student intake, will soon work out a way to give more weightage to an applicant’s class XII marks in JEE, the entrance test conducted for admission to the 15 IITs, the Institute of Technology, Banaras Hindu University, and the Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad.

The minister on Monday said that students aspiring for entry into the elite IITs would need to perform well in their class XII boards as in JEE. The aim, partly, is to discourage the mushrooming growth of expensive coaching centres, he said.

So far, students appearing for IIT-JEE have needed a score of 60% and above in their class XII boards to take the exam. Students belonging to the scheduled caste or scheduled tribe categories require at least 55% to qualify for taking the test.

Officials at IITs said the institutes were considering two ways of enhancing the weightage: First, minimum eligibility criteria of 60% to write the IIT-JEE is raised to a higher percentage, say 70-80%, and second, a marking system where, while assessing a student for admission into the IITs, 70% of weightage is given to his score at IIT-JEE and 30% to his marks in class XII.

In a meeting of the joint advisory board of the IITs on 23 August, the institutes had called for a “good correlation" between performance of students in IITs and that in schools, as well as in JEE.

PTI contributed to this story.

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