There appears no early end to the debate over the examination system for admission to the Indian Institutes of Technology. The 41st meeting of the Council of IITs, here on Friday, failed to arrive at a solution acceptable to all members.
Chaired by Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal, the meeting set up a committee, headed by Science and Technology Secretary T. Ramasami, to take a re-look at the issue and come out with its recommendations in three months.
The decision came at the end of a spirited discussion on the interim report of the committee headed by IIT Kharagpur Director D. Acharya.
Dr. Ramasami and several others suggested that admissions be based on students' scores in the Class XII examination and a national aptitude test for all technical courses alone, with the caveat that the Class XII examination performance be assessed State-wise so that there would be no complaint of bias.
Directors of several IITs, however, insisted on an additional examination, on the lines of the Acharya committee recommendations.
Briefing journalists, Mr. Sibal noted that while there was no unanimity on the examination pattern, there was a general consensus that the present system of multiple entrance tests for admissions to various technical institutions need be changed to reduce burden on the students.
There was also unanimity that the present system of coaching classes for admission to IITs and other courses was not good for getting the right quality of students and should be done away with.
Foreigners on faculty
The four-hour meeting gave in-principle approval for appointment of foreigners to permanent faculty positions up to 10 per cent, and to admit foreign students, up to 25 per cent, to postgraduate courses on a supernumerary basis, without affecting the present admission norms for Indians.
Mr. Sibal said his Ministry would soon initiate discussions with the Home Ministry on the modalities of getting this decision implemented.
Medicine in IITs
The Council approved a proposal to amend the Institutes of Technology Act to enable the IITs to offer courses in medicine with the approval of the Medical Council of India. For, medicine involves many engineering techniques and there have been demands that the IITs conduct research and impart education in medicine.
Collaboration for research
It was decided to set up a permanent standing committee, under the former Director-General of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, R.A. Mashelkar, to foster collaboration among the IITs and between the IITs and other institutions in inter-disciplinary research.
The meeting gave the green signal for inclusion of the Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Council to the Prime Minister, and the Presidents of the Indian National Science Academy and the Indian National Academy of Engineering as members of the Council of IITs.