Students who had applied to Central institutions were left high and dry on Tuesday, as the online system of seat management did not work

Hundreds of students who were called to various National Institutes of Technology (NITs), Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IIITs) and other reputed engineering institutions for admissions on Tuesday, had to leave without their promised seat, as the online system of seat allotment malfunctioned.

There was chaos at the Indian Institute of Information Technology Design and Manufacturing in Kancheepuram, where over 300 students had come with their parents to complete their admission formalities.

All of them had already paid Rs. 40,000 for the process, but with the computers not able to retrieve any stored data, most were worried that they would lose their money.

“We waited from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. expecting the system to be repaired. It is shocking – these are the institutes that are going to teach our children and they cannot build one good website,” said A. Parasuraman, a parent.

Trail of errors

This is not the first glitch in the system, parents said. “Ever since the admissions process began, there has been a problem or delay in every round of allotment. Most links are disabled all the time and the helpline numbers given never work,” said Mr. Parasuraman.

The admissions procedure for all 30 NITs, 4 IIITs and other Centrally-funded institutes is manned by the Central Seat Allocation Board (CSAB) which was constituted by the ministry of human resource development to facilitate allocation of seats.

CSAB officials have already released at least six notifications this year, admitting to technical glitches in the system or making changes in the allotments. Chairman of the board, Sunil Sarangi, had issued apology letters to students twice.

The initial errors were caused because CBSE (the school board) and CSAB used different spellings – ‘Odisha’ and ‘Orissa’ in the software, leading to problems in the rank list.

After this, came some serious merit violations because of which the admission process had to be rolled back, a CSAB official said.

Rollbacks irk parents

Many parents are also frustrated with the rollbacks of allotted seats. “Last week, my daughter was allotted a seat in NIT, Kurukshetra. After great difficulty, just as we managed to book tickets on short notice, they changed it to NIT, Patna. Finally, they asked us to come to IIIT, Kancheepuram. Now, they have asked us to come again on July 25,” said Radha Rao, a parent.

Rohan Kumar, who secured 96 per cent in the CBSE class XII exams, regrets not having going to Anna University for counselling.

“My parents are now trying to get me a management seat at a private institute. I could have easily got into Anna University with my marks but I gave that up trying to get into an NIT,” he said.

This is the first year the NITs and other deemed universities short-listed candidates based on their marks in the Joint Entrance Examination (Mains) and their performance in the class XII exams.

Education consultant D. Nedunchezhiyan said there was no transparency in the NIT admissions procedure.

“There are so many high-scorers in entrance tests who have worked hard to get a seat. It is unfair they have to been put through these difficulties all because the officials decided to use a system that was probably never tested,” he said.