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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.

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.
 

 

No age bar in CLAT, rules Allahabad HC

By Our Correspondent
LUCKNOW :
The Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) for admission to law universities in the country will have no age bar from next year.

This is because of the Allahabad high court order dated February 26 which ordered the RMLNLU to remove age bar on the coveted exam.

CLAT, the gateway to 16 law universities that includes the likes of National Law School of India University (NLSIU), Bengaluru, NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad and the National University of Juridical Sciences (NUJS), Kolkata, was conducted by Ram Manohar Lohiya National Law University, Lucknow, (RMLNLU) this year.

CLAT Controversy

CLAT has been in controversy this year and RMLNLU was forced to extend the deadline of application as the Supreme Court rejected its appeal on March 27 bringing the Allahabad high court order dated February 26 into play.

The High Court had on February 26 directed the CLAT authorities 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 was 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 for 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.

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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