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Smriti firm on common IIT, NIT counselling
NEW DELHI : On March 25 the Human Resource Development Ministry told the Delhi High Court what Smriti Irani had announced in Parliament a week before : that there will be common counselling for admission to IITs and National Institutes of Technology (NITs) from academic session 2015-2016.

Earlier the IITs were criticised by the court for saying it would not be possible to begin the process this year as the software would not be tested and ready for use before admission counselling starts in June-July.

At present, the IITs and the NITs do their counselling separately, which means a candidate who gets an offer from both institutes can block seats in both and dump one at the last moment. In case of common counselling, a student will get an offer from only one institute -- either an IIT or an NIT -- at a time.

Last August, the high court had directed the Centre to ensure common counselling for the IITs and NITs from 2015-16 while hearing a PIL filed by Rajeev Kumar, an IIT Kharagpur faculty member.

The HRD ministry had then set up a technical committee to suggest the modalities for common counselling. The committee backed the proposal with a few riders. However, subsequently the IITs filed an affidavit saying common counselling may not be possible this year. They suggested the IITs could hold "synchronised admission counselling" with the NITs, so that counselling for both institutions was conducted at the same time, but separately.

This prompted the court, which was critical about the delay in fixing the software, to comment: "it is a pity that in the last nearly seven months, the needful has not been achieved." This led the HRD ministry to overrule the IIT decision, sources said.

NIT sources claimed the IITs were deliberately delaying common counselling to perpetuate the public hype about the IITs. Software was not an issue, they alleged.

"The IITs would like to perpetuate in government and the public mind a special status and consequent enhanced funding to the IIT system. In reality, like the caste system, it is hurting Indian technical education," claimed the NIT Rourkela director, Sunil Kumar Sarangi.

But H.C. Gupta, a former chairman of the IIT-JEE (Advanced) exam, said the software was key to common counselling and was not ready.

"Is the software ready? If ready, please demonstrate it to show that it works. The problem is if it does not work, it will give a bad name to IITs," Gupta said.

He said similar efforts had been made in 2013 when he was the JEE-Advanced chairman. But the software could not be tested and the plan had to be deferred.

About 45,000 students get admission to 30 NITs, four Indian Institutes of Information Technology and a few other institutions every year. About 10,000 students are admitted to the IITs and ISM Dhanbad.

Andhra prepones Eamcet to May 8

HYDERABAD : Andhra Pradesh has preponed its Engineering and Medicine Common Entrance Test (EAMCET) to May 8 instead of May 10 in view of clash of dates with other entrance tests.

The May 10 date was clashing with the dates of two other important admission tests — the DSC and Karnataka Private Colleges Test (COMEDK-UGET).

AP HRD minister Ghanta Srinivasa Rao announced the new date on March 2 at a press conference here, saying several parents, students and organisations had pressed for it.

He made another important announcement : along with the off-line mode, for the first time the examination would also be conducted online. Officials were clueless about this, and they told the media after the press conference that it will be impossible to conduct Eamcet online in such a short span of time.

Later some officials, including Prof. L. Venugopala Reddy, the chairman of the AP Higher Education Council, and Vijay Prakash, the vice-chairman, met the minister to tell him that the online exam cannot be conducted for this year.

“We were caught unawares. Online exams require a lot of preparation and some budget as well. It is not possible this time. We can get ready for 2016,” an official who is dealing with the affairs of conducting the test said.

Vishakhapatnam

Earlier on February 26 the minister had announced May 10 as the Eamcet date at Vishakhapatnam.

JNTU Kakinada will hold AP Eamcet this year, he said.

Other common entrance tests to be held are ECET and PECET on May 14, ICET on May 16, PGCET on May 25, EdCET on May 28 and LawCET on May 30.

A committee will be formed to conduct EAMCET 2015 with Vice-Chancellor of JNTU-K, a Convener appointed by it, representatives from three universities, directors of Technical Education
and Medical Education, Secretary Higher Education, a representative of the A.P. State Council of Higher Education and Principal of a private engineering college, as members.

A total of 1,65,000 seats are available in the engineering colleges of the universities and under private management in the State and 1,16,732 of them will be filled up under Convener's
quota. More than two lakh students are expected to appear for the test.

Answering a question on more number of seats available in engineering college than the number of applicants, the HRD Minister said a committee was looking into the issue and decide for the next academic year whether to continue with admissions with EAMCET or based on the marks obtained in the Intermediate.

An expert committee is also being formed with people from reputed institutions abroad also, to suggest reforms in primary and higher education in the State. Grading of engineering colleges
based on the strength of faculty and infrastructure available, is being done.

WB JEE deferred for civic polls

CALCUTTA : West Bengal government has postponed the state
joint entrance examinations by over a fortnight to May 5 and 6 in view of a possible clash of dates with the civic elections.

The tests for medical and engineering courses were to be held on April 18 and 19. "In the revised schedule the exams will be held on May 5 and 6," Bhaskar Gupta, the chairman of the West Bengal Joint Entrance Examination Board, said on February 17.

"The tentative date for declaring the results in the new schedule is June 20." The board had earlier declared that the results would be declared before June 10. The results of JEE 2014 were declared on June 5.

The test for biological sciences will be held on May 5, and for mathematics, physics and chemistry on May 6.

The board, the chairman pointed out, has made "elaborate arrangements" to ensure the results are published on June 20. "For example, we will arrange more equipment like scanners for evaluating the OMR sheets."

The civic polls are likely to be held in April. Since a large number of schools and colleges will be taken over for the polls, the board would have found it difficult to hold the exams on the original dates.

All India Medical, Dental admission
test on May 3

NEW DELHI
: The Central Board of Secondary Education which is conducting the
All India Pre-Medical/Pre-Dental Entrance Test, for this year (2015) has invited online applications for the test to be held on May 3, 2015.

The test is being conducted as per the directives of the Supreme Court of India for admission to MBBS/BDS Courses under 15 per cent All India Quota seats and also for seats under the control of participating States/ universities/ institutions in the academic session 2015-16.

A number of state governments/ universities/ Institutions are voluntarily participating in the all India test so as to use its merit list for admission to medical colleges/ dental Colleges seats under their control.

The responsibility of the CBSE is limited to the conduct of the entrance test, declaration of result and providing merit list to the DGHS and participating states/ universities/ institutions.

The counselling for successful candidates under the 15 per cent all India Quota seats will be conducted by the DGHS and counselling for admission to seats under the control of other participating states/ universities/ institutions will be conducted by their respective authorities.

For details click here

One agency for all higher edu exams
By Our Correspondent
LUCKNOW
: The Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) has set up a task force to prepare a blueprint for a national agency to conduct various entrance examinations and recruitment tests in the country.

The eight-member task force will be headed by former IIT-Kanpur director Sanjay Dhandhe.

The Chairman of the Central Board of Secondary Education, and one representative each from the University Grants Commission (UGC) and All India Institute of Technical Education (AICTE) will be among the members of the panel, among others.

The proposal to set up a National Testing Agency (NTA) is yet another ambitious move by the Centre to push its “one nation, one test” agenda to relieve students from the burden of facing multiple entrance tests, even as MHRD assures that the new system will not be imposed on any institution.

According to the MHRD proposal, NTA's basic mandate will be to conduct efficient, transparent tests of international standards in order to assess the competency of candidates for admission to colleges and professional institutes of higher learning, including engineering, medicine and management.

The proposal also seeks to hold nationwide tests for the purpose of recruitment in various government departments and granting scholarships in future.

“The task force set up to prepare the blueprint will suggest ways and means of setting up such an internationally-benchmarked testing and assessment agency. It will also suggest parameters to standardise all the major tests, including the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE), conducted in the country,” a HRD Ministry official said on July 12.

The idea of setting up a National Testing Agency has been under the consideration of the ministry for several years. When Kapil Sibal was the HRD minister, he had wanted to set up the NTA by an Act of Parliament to make it a statutory body.

The ministry, however, later dropped the idea of setting up such a body in view of its experiences with its various key legislations, which have been pending for passage in Parliament for a long time.

The ministry now plans to set up the proposed agency by an executive order. The proposal to set up NTA got approval of the Central Advisory Board on Education (CABE) in its last meeting.
 

 

SC rejects RMLNLU plea, no age bar in CLAT

By Rajiv Shukla
LUCKNOW :
On March 27 the Supreme Court rejected Dr Ram Manohar Lohia National Law University's (RMLNLU) appeal, clearing way for a no-age-bar Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) this year.

A bench of Justice V Gopala Gowda and Justice C Nagappan saw no merit in the plea made by RMLNLU. "What is the justification for having 20 years as the maximum age for candidates," the bench asked, observing that a brilliant student may have to suffer if it was allowed to continue.

With the rejection of the RMLNLU appeal the Allahabad high court order dated February 26, 2015 comes into play according to which CLAT authorities ought to remove age bar on the test and extend the deadline for the online acceptance of CLAT forms.      

CLAT is an all-India entrance examination conducted in rotation by the 16 national law universities for admissions to their undergraduate and postgraduate degree programmes (LLB and LLM). CLAT-2015 is being conducted by RMLNLU, Lucknow and the last date for submission of online applications for CLAT is March 31.

RMLNLU, it may be recalled, had gone into appeal against the Allahabad High Court order following CLAT core committee decision of March 20 to make one last-ditch effort to salvage CLAT by filing a special leave petition in the Supreme Court requesting it to allow CLAT core committee to continue with the 20-year age limit forRam Manohar Lohia National Law University, Lucknow admission to the undergraduate courses.

The CLAT core committee had authorised RMLNLU to file a SLP in the apex court but at the same time keep entertaining applications from candidates above 20 years of age.

According to the strategy discussed and approved by the core committee the Allahabad high court order dated February 26, 2015 ought to be challenged in the apex court but at the same time preparation must be made to execute the high court order, if need be.

“If the Supreme Court agrees to the 20-year age bar, we will reject the applications of candidates who are above 20 years. In case, they quash our writ petition, we will include all applications of candidates who are above 20 years of age“, JD Gangawar, CLAT convener had told a reporter earlier.

The Allahabad high court had on February 26 quashed the maximum age limit of 20 years for appearing in CLAT for admission to five-year integrated LLB course. The courses include BA-LLB (Hons), BSc LLb (Hons), BBA LLB (Hons), BSW LLB (Hons) and BCom LLB (Hons).

On February 26 the Allahabad high court had ordered the university to “accept the forms of those candidates also who have crossed 20 years of age and allow them to appear them in the examinations subject to their satisfying other conditions of eligibility.”

High Court order

The interim order was passed by Justice SK Gupta on a petition moved by Devasheesh Pathak and 20 others who had challenged the advertisement issued by Dr Ram Manohar Lohia University, Lucknow, the organiser of Common Law Admission Test (CLAT-2015).

The court declared as illegal the upper age limit of 20 years fixed for appearing in the Combined Law Admission Test (CLAT). The judgment would affect admission to 16 national law schools in the country.

The court was of the view that the age limit of 20 years stated in the advertisement as well as the information brochure was “without authority of law” since there was “no provision of law which gives the university the power to fix the upper age limit”.

In view of the fact that the last date for submission of forms was March 31, the court directed the vice-chancellor of the Dr Ram Manohar Lohia University to “accept the forms of those candidates also who have crossed 20 years of age and allow them to appear them in the examinations subject to their satisfying other conditions of eligibility.”

With this order, the court also said that only the Bar Council of India had the authority to set standards for law education in the country. The BCI had set guidelines and rules in the year 2008 and had set an age limit. However, it withdrew its guideline on age after it was challenged. Despite this reversal Dr Ram Manohar Law University was still sticking to its age limit which the court said was against Article 19 of the constitution.

The Allahabad High Court interim order will have a decisive impact on CLAT admission procedure unless it is challenged by the RML University authorities.

Dr Ram Manohar Lohia University, Lucknow, the organiser of Common Law Admission Test (CLAT-2015) had been ducking directives from a number of high courts, the latest being Rajasthan High Court on one pretext or the other but now the order has come from Allahabad High Court which if ignored may prove too costly for the institution.

Admission test : a pvt venture for 11 pvt varsities

From Our Correspondent
NEW DELHI :
A group of 11 private universities -- some of them deemed universities -- have decided to pick students for admission from an examination to be conducted by a Bangalore-based private agency, ERA Foundation.

The students from the test result will be picked for the undergraduate run by these private institutions including medical, engineering and dental science courses.

Modelled on SAT and GRE the Uni-Gauge EMeD exam will be held in 60 cities. Calcutta will have several exam centres and there will be some in other parts of the state. The test will be held on April 26 -- online -- and the results will be declared online on April 29.

At present each of these participating university used to hold its own admission test leading to multiplicity of tests and increasing financial burden on the students. Single common test will ease students' load. The only catch is that there are few -- just a couple of institutions in the group -- that students would aspire for.

The participating universities include MS Ramaiah University of Applied Sciences, Bangalore; Vellore Institute of Technology and JSS University, Mysore.

Like SAT and GRE each aspirant will be awarded a score  and the participating universities will pick their students from the merit list prepared by firm.

VIT admission test between April 8 & 19

HYDERABAD : Application deadline for the Vellore Institute of Technology Engineering Entrance Examination (VITEEE) has been postponed to March 15, officials of VIT administration who were in the city said here on March 2.

Institute founder and chancellor G. Viswanathan told a press conference that nearly 6,000 students of the 29,000 enrolled at the university, and about 37,000 students of over one lakh students who took the entrance exam last year, hailed from undivided Andhra Pradesh.

He hoped that the number would increase this year from the bifurcated Telugu States. This year, computer-based VITEEE is being held between April 8 and 19 across 112 cities.

Recounting the university’s founding, Dr. Viswanathan, a two-time parliamentarian and former Union Minister, said higher education in the country has come a long way but a lot still needs to be done.

He stressed increased government spending for higher education, commensurate with importance given to school education. When asked about seats not being filled in private engineering colleges, he blamed quality and infrastructure in many private colleges, besides placing the onus on governments.

Officials informed that a maximum annual pay of Rs.16 lakh was offered last year at VIT.

Telangana Eamcet on May 14, notice on Feb 25

From Our Correspondent
HYDERABAD :
Telangana State has announced to hold its first Engineering, Agriculture and Medical Common Entrance Test (EAMCET) on May 14, online applications for which will be accepted between February 28 and April 9. The notification for the Eamcet will be issued on February 25.

According to a rough estimate about 2.5 lakh aspirants will appear for the exam this year with 70,000 of them being from Andhra Pradesh. Andhra students who wish to take up the exam, will have to come to TS for the exam as TS has not, so far, created any exam centre in AP territory.

No changes have been made in the pattern of the Eamcet this year. For normalisation, officials said the AP Board of Intermediate Education will be treated on par with other Boards of the country, like the CBSE. Fees for the exam can be paid through select private banks in addition to the TS and AP Mee Seva centres as well as TS and AP Online centres. Students will have to obtain at least 25 per cent of the total 160 marks to qualify for ranking.

JNTU officiating Vice-Chancellor, Sailaja Ramaiyer, TSCHE Chairman, Papi Reddy and EAMCET-2015 Convenor, N.V. Ramana Rao told reporters on February 20 that they would consider positively if the AP Government requests centres in their State for the convenience of their students.

“We will honour the 85:15 per cent formula in the admission process and AP students will lose nothing,” Prof. Reddy said.

Andhra Pradesh government hasn't announced its strategy yet but it is almost obvious that AP will quietly accept the fait accompli and go in for its own Eamcet for which it has already made ample arrangements.

Third-party mediation efforts by the Governor having failed, the Andhra Pradesh government has been considering to hold its own EAMCET.

AP government, which had been threatening to move court if the Telangana government refuses to accept its authority over EAMCET, hasn't taken a step so far giving clear indications that Andhra will go its own way.

Mediation

Andhra Pradesh and Telangana Governor, E.S.L. Narasimhan had, on December 30, and then on January 3, specifically told the education ministers of the two newly formed states that they should strictly adhere to the A.P. Reorganisation Act in matter of Eamcet this year. However Telangana chief minister took a different stand and gone to the extent of ousting the APSCHE office from its present location.

On January 3 Jawaharlal Nehru Architecture and Fine Arts University (JNAFAU) served a formal notice to the APSCHE to vacate the building that the APSCHE had been occupying on the JNAFAU campus.

The bone of contention are the top colleges and their numerous seats which will go exclusively to Telangana students now. The government and students of AP were promised that their interests would not be harmed as the AP Reorganisation Act promised common admissions and quotas for 10 years after bifurcation.

All the top colleges in engineering, medical, management etc. are located in Hyderabad. The toppers in Eamcet and Icet prefer colleges like the Osmania University affiliated engineering colleges and JNTU-Kukatpally affiliated private colleges like CBIT, MGIT, Vasavi, Mathrusri, Sri Nidhi, Guru-nanak, Gokaraju Rangaraju, BVRIT, VNR Vignana Jyothi etc., located in and around Hyderabad.

Similarly, medical toppers vie for seats in the city’s Osmania Medical College and Gandhi Medical College and the nearly 20 private medical colleges.

Though the TS government is willing to offer 15 per cent seats in the open quota in all colleges to Seemandhra students it will be open to TS students also.

Interestingly, both the state governments are taking shelter under the same Act -- AP Reorganisation Act. While APSCHE chairman Prof. L. Venugopal Reddy says that the decision to hold a common Eamcet was taken after taking the legal opinion of the AP advocate-general, TSCHE chairman Prof. Papi Reddy claims that Chief Minister KCR had approved separate CETs for Telangana and an announcement is expected soon.

The APSCHE has already announced that it will hold the Eamcet on May 10, Ecet on May 14, Icet on May 16, Edcet on May 28 and Lawcet on May 30.

Agreed plan

According to the plan worked out by the two states in early December last year, each of them was to hold its own Eamcet and the students in the two states were to be given an option to take the exam of either state or appear for both.

The admissions, according to the plan, were to be common and students of each state could claim admission in the 15 per cent open quota in both the states irrespective of which Eamcet they opt for.

As for the Intermediate exam, there will be no sharing and each state board will hold its own Intermediate exam for students under its own territorial jurisdiction. Each state has promised to ensure that there is a gap of atleast a week between the two Eamcets.

"The accord reached between the two states ends months of confusion," AP education minister Ganta Srinivasa Rao said on December 21 adding that the dates for the exam would be announced in the next two or three days. The promised announcement has not come so far.

GATE to go the JEE way, have 2-tier exam

NEW DELHI : The National Co-ordination Board (NCB) of the Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE) has proposed a two-tier test for admission to the M.Tech programme run by the Indian Institutes of Technology and the IISc, Bangalore. The test will, like the new JEE, have a screening test followed by the main admission test.

According to a newspaper report the new pattern is being adopted to cope up with the massive increase in the number of aspirants in the past five years — from 1.8 lakh in 2008 to more than 10 lakh this year.

The National Co-ordination Board (NCB), which conducts the test each year, comprises the directors of the seven older IITs and the Bangalore-based Indian Institute of Science (IISc).

The screening exam, planned to be entrusted to a private agency, will be more like an aptitude test. The final test, to be conducted by the IITs and IISc, will assess the domain (subject) knowledge of the students, said The Telegraph report quoting an IIT director.

“The NCB has written to all IITs to get the views of the faculty on the two-tier GATE proposal and outsource the screening test to a private firm,” the director added.

Each of the seven IITs last week issued circulars to the heads of departments asking them to give their views after speaking to the faculty members.

The move assumes significance against the backdrop of recent changes brought to the IIT-JEE examination. For admission to BTech courses in the IITs from next year, aspirants will have to appear in the JEE-Main, to be conducted by the CBSE. If they clear this, they will have to take the JEE-Advanced, to be held by the IITs.

But a faculty member from IIT Kharagpur said he and his colleagues would oppose the plan to enlist a private firm for GATE, said the newspaper report.

“Private companies have no stake in promoting merit in admission in the IITs except monetary gains. We will oppose this proposal to take away a part of the exam from the IITs.”

Not everyone seemed to back the view, though. Former IIT Kanpur director S.G. Dhande justified the move, saying changes were required to ensure better quality in the test.

“Is the existing GATE really assessing the eligibility of a student for research? The present objective-type test is focussed on subject knowledge. We need to test the orientation and aptitude of students for research,” Dhande said.

The screening test may have questions on reasoning, basic science and language to gauge the general competence of students, while the final exam could test domain knowledge.

Dhande suggested the screening test be held online and several times a year.

But IIT Faculty Federation president K. Narasimhan indicated the last word was not out on the proposed change and that it would be discussed at several forums before being given final shape.

“The federation has not taken any view on the proposal yet. Let us see what the faculty members from each institute are saying,” the IIT Bombay teacher said.

Dheeraj Sanghi, of IIT Kanpur, appeared to favour the new system saying GATE was gradually becoming a burden on the IITs because of the increase in the number of aspirants.

“I think it is a good move. A private firm (Prometric) has been conducting the Common Admission Test (CAT) for IIMs the past few years. The GATE examination similarly can be handled by a private firm,” he said.

 

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