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Currently, the JEE-Main is used as a selection examination for all central government-funded technical schools. Photo: Hemant Mishra/ Mint
Currently, the JEE-Main is used as a selection examination for all central government-funded technical schools. Photo: Hemant Mishra/ Mint

JEE Main, JEE Advanced to be merged from 2015

All engineering colleges, including IITs, will have to conduct common counselling for students in 2014

New Delhi: All central government-funded engineering schools, including the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), will select students through a common entrance examination in 2015, merging the existing two-tier joint entrance examination (JEE), the human resource ministry has decided.

As a precursor to the new admission format, all engineering colleges will have to conduct common counselling for students in 2014, according to the government decision.

Currently, the JEE-Main is used as a selection examination for all central government-funded technical schools, including the National Institutes of Technology (NITs) and the Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IIITs), while students opting for the IITs need to clear the JEE-Advanced examination.

The top 150,000 students of the main examination are eligible to sit for the JEE-Advanced test for a seat in the 16 IITs and Indian School of Mines (ISM), Dhanbad.

The human resource ministry has decided to merge the JEE-Advanced and JEE-Main entrance exams from next year and the IITs have been informed about it, said Ashok Thakur, higher education secretary.

In 2012, the government devised the two-tier JEE system, after almost a year of protests and deliberation with the IITs and other top technical schools, to reduce the influence of coaching centres on aspirants for the top technical colleges and making the admission process simpler for students.

“For this year, our agenda is that we want to have common counselling," Thakur said. “We are very keen on joint counselling. That’s the issue and we want to get after them (IITs). Last year, we tried but IIT Delhi (the coordinating IIT) was very adamant."

Under the current format, the IITs conduct student counselling first, followed by the NITs and other top schools, which are carried out after a month, especially after the Class-12 school board results are available. India has more than 23 school boards.

While the IITs and ISM admit more than 9,600 students a year at the undergraduate level, other top schools admit more than 25,000 students. At least 1.4 million students appeared for the JEE-Main exam last year and the top 150,000 sat for the JEE-Advanced test.

“This (two separate counsellings) defeats the purpose of a central exam. What we are asking them is to prepare one merit list," said Thakur. The general perception is that IITs feel that they are a cut above the rest and it’s not advisable for them to sit with other technology and engineering schools.

The students of many NITs are very good and joint counselling will help the students and engineering schools in not just reducing hassles but will also help to reduce the number of seats falling vacant, says Thakur.

About 600 seats at the IITs and the NITs fell vacant in 2012 because of separate counselling that allows a candidate to receive offers from an IIT as well as an NIT at the same time.

A candidate who gets an offer from an IIT and an NIT hangs on to the IIT seat while waiting for his choice of subject in an NIT. By the time the candidate decides on the final place to join, it is often too late for the colleges to fill up these vacant seats. Under the proposed common counselling system, a student will get only one choice. If a candidate does not accept it, then he will be given the option to join another school.

“The effort should be to make life easier for students. I don’t know about common counselling but if that reduces vacant seats, then it’s good. But from a student’s point of view, a good college with a good subject choice is very important," said Amit Kumar Biswal, a JEE-aspirant from Hyderabad this year.

The IITs said the plan for a joint counselling may not yield the desired results. “Earlier, we used to do one round of counselling for admitting students, the government told us to do twice and then three rounds and we have done that. But has the situation improved? I don’t think so. Students take admission and then leave for a better course or leave for a foreign school later. How will you fill up those seats?" said H.C. Gupta, a professor of IIT-Delhi and chairman of the IIT-JEE Advanced exam last year.

A senior administrator from another leading IIT said a one-exam system is not a desirable format. “Once the new government comes, they may take a different view than what the present government thinks," the official said, requesting anonymity.

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