Common entrance exams will undermine IITs' autonomy, taint standard of students

The Indian Institutes of Technology alumni association here has written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh seeking his intervention in keeping the IITs out of the purview of the joint entrance examination (JEE) lest it “undermine the autonomy” of the premier institutions and also “adversely impact” standards of students.

“Since you are the executive head of the country, we feel we shall be failing in our duty to the nation should we not apprise you of our concerns on this matter and earnestly expect a solution to the same in a democratic and transparent manner,” said Somnath Bharti, coordinator, IITians for IITs Autonomy and president, IIT Delhi Alumni Association.

On May 28, Human Resource Development Kapil Sibal announced a JEE for admission to all undergraduate courses in engineering including the IITs, claiming all IIT Councils had agreed to the proposal. The IIT alumni and faculty, though, have been opposing it.

Responding to the developments, Mr. Sibal said five of the seven IIT Senates — the highest decision-making bodies — had supported the proposal. The only dispute was over IITs having control over the entrance examination, which has been agreed upon. The demand that school marks be not counted in the final assessment for IIT admissions was also accepted.

The IITians for IITs Autonomy, the support group by the IIT alumni, pointed out in the letter to Dr. Singh that the institutes were created by Jawaharlal Nehru to bring technological excellence and leadership for India. “It is a matter of great pride that these institutions have lived up to his expectation and their excellence over time has been established across the world. We believe that instead of providing additional autonomy to take these institutions to a level where they can produce Nobel laureates, slowly but surely their autonomy is being destroyed because of the short-sighted approach of the HRD Ministry.”

While the Ministry was unable to address the incompetence, inefficiency, governance and standards of schools and examinations, it had taken upon itself the task of destroying the autonomy of IITs, the letter said.