IIT faculty and alumni associations have opposed the move

Even as the faculty and alumni associations of the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) are strongly opposed to the Centre's decision to hold a joint entrance examination for undergraduate engineering courses in the country, the State governments on Tuesday endorsed this decision.

Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal last month announced a joint entrance examination (JEE) for all engineering courses in the Central educational institutions, including the IITs which until now held separate examinations for admission. States can also join the common entrance test, which comes into effect from 2013.

The IIT faculty and alumni associations have opposed the move on the ground that it would undermine the autonomy of the prestigious institutions and adversely impact the standard of education.

At a meeting of State Education Ministers here, a majority of the States supported a common entrance test that would save the students from writing multiple entrance tests.

Maharashtra and Gujarat were among the first ones to join the new admission system, while Andhra Pradesh and some other States said they needed more time to decide.

Bihar, on the other hand, said those seeking admission to IITs should not be given preferential treatment by competing through an additional examination.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Sibal said the academic body to be constituted for the JEE-MAIN test would have representation from States in an appropriate manner.

It was also clarified that where a State intends to join in the common test for admission to engineering institutions within the State, the exam papers would be also available in the regional language in addition to English and Hindi.

To a query on the syllabus for the JEE-MAIN, it was clarified that the Council of all Boards of Secondary Education, in 2010, adopted a core curriculum in sciences and maths and the examination would be based on it.

The proposed entrance examination seeks to give weightage to Class XII examination that would be normalised to a percentile basis through a formula.

The test will be in two parts: main and advanced. The merit list for those qualifying for the IITs will be prepared on the basis of the marks scored in the advanced exam.

Archana Chitnis, Madhya Pradesh Education Minister, presented a report of the Group of Ministers on the “Concept and Framework of the Community College Scheme” at the meeting, which was unanimously accepted.

Community colleges

It was decided to start 200 community colleges on a pilot basis in 2012-13 and then scale up the number gradually.

The States were requested to identify local skill requirements linked to the local needs that could form the basis of opening community colleges and forward these proposals to the Centre by June 2012.

The States approved the draft Bill for establishing Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IIITs) and the implementation of the Scheme for IIITs on public-private partnership mode. However, the States wanted the Central and the State Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) accepted as industry partners for the establishment of IIITs; and giving States the flexibility to bring in one or more industry partners instead of limiting the number of partners to three.