They have been asked to wait till Sibal returns from the U.S.

As the government remains silent on the controversy over the common entrance test for admission to undergraduate engineering courses, the All-India IIT Faculty Federation and the IIT-Delhi Alumni Association hope for an early response from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to their request for an appointment.

“We are in touch with the Prime Minister's Office to seek an audience with him in order to apprise him of the situation that has arisen out of the Human Resource Development Ministry's announcement on May 28 of the new joint entrance examination,” Somnath Bharti, president of the Alumni Association, told The Hindu.

The association had got off a request to the PMO on June 6 but is yet to get an appointment. It has been asked to wait, presumably, until Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal returns home from the U.S. on June 14.

He has a family engagement for a couple of days thereafter, before he resumes work.

Meanwhile, the faculty members of various IITs are busy holding informal consultations among themselves on the future course of action. The Senate of the IIT-Kanpur has already decided to hold a separate test in 2013 and set up a committee to work out the modalities. However, it has offered to coordinate with the other IITs in the conduct of the examination.

The Alumni Association has announced that it would challenge the Centre's decision through a public interest litigation petition, to be filed later this week.

Director criticised

The IIT-Kharagpur's faculty has also come out against the Director for supporting the common entrance test, pointing out that the Senate had never agreed to the new format.

There is also talk that the Senates of the IIT-Delhi and the IIT-Bombay could also announce a separate admission process, but a final decision is expected only by month-end.

Shiv Sahay Singh reports from Kolkata

Faculty members of the Indian Institute of Technology-Kharagpur have decided to seek West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's intervention to put on hold the proposal of the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development for a common entrance test for undergraduate engineering courses across the country.

“We will bring it to the notice of the Chief Minister how the common entrance examination will undermine merit and dilute the academic standards of the IITs. The teachers will urge Ms. Banerjee to communicate her views to the Union Ministry in this regard,” said a senior faculty member of the IIT.

The proposed common entrance test has created divisions between the administration and faculty members of IIT-Kharagpur. While the Institute's Director Prof. Damodar Acharya has welcomed the proposal, representatives of the IIT-Kharagpur Teachers' Association have opposed it.

“The faculty members of the Institute will do everything possible through democratic means to oppose the common entrance test,” said a faculty member.

Referring to the protests in the past when the IIT teachers went on a hunger strike over implementation of the recommendations of the Sixth Pay Commission, he said that the teachers' association is contemplating similar protest on the issue.

“The faculty members never agreed that the Institute should admit students on the basis of a common entrance test from 2013,” he said, adding that the views of a majority of teachers had not been incorporated into the resolution of the IIT Senate.

“IIT-Kharagpur is willing to expand the ambit of IIT-JEE to other institutions,” said the resolution taken by a special Senate meeting on May 2.