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Gearing up for CEE 2006

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It is New Year and the focus has once again shifted to admissions to professional colleges in the State. G. Mahadevan finds out what is in store for those aspiring to join the medical and engineering streams in the State.

With the State Government giving its approval to the draft prospectus for the Common Entrance Examination 2006 for admission to professional colleges in the State, the stage is set for the commencement of what is arguably the most-keenly watched and debated selection and admission procedure in Kerala.According to the office of the Commissioner for Entrance Examinations, preparations are under way to print the prospectus and commence its sale by February 1. If last year the prospectus was sold through post offices, this time it can be purchased through select branches of the Canara Bank within and outside Kerala.

Number of seats

Even though the CEE's office is going ahead with preparations for the conduct of this year's entrance tests, the last word is yet to be said on the actual number of seats that will be up for grabs in these examinations. Though the Kerala Self-Financing Colleges (Prohibition of Capitation fee and Procedure for Admission and Fixation of fee) Act {lcub}Act 17 of 2004{rcub} provides that 50 per cent of seats in self-financing professional colleges will be `Government seats' with Government fee, this Act is under challenge in the Supreme Court. As a result, the present arrangement is to collect the fee as stipulated by the K.T. Thomas Committee.The court verdict of August 12, 2005 - in the P.A. Inamdar and others Vs the State Maharashtra and others - which basically says no to any imposition of Government quota or fixing percentage of seats in minority institutions and in non-minority unaided institutions has only weakened the case of proponents of the `50-50 seats' formula. The only consolation is that SC/ST students and those belonging to the SEBC category will get reservation - thanks to the relevant constitutional amendment done last year - in non-minority self-financing institutions.Many of those who have advised the Government on this matter are said to be of the view that Kerala needs to go in for a new Act stipulating Government quotas if and when the Apex Court strikes down the present Act in its entirety or rules against the principle of Government quotas in self-financing professional colleges.

Question of eligibility

Another issue that is becoming contentious is the `relaxing' of eligibility criteria for candidates of the engineering entrance examination. If, earlier, a candidate had to have 50 per cent marks in the qualifying examinations to be able to write the engineering entrance, now, anyone who has passed the qualifying examinations can appear for the common entrance test. Though this is in tune with the latest guidelines of the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), there has been strong criticism from some quarters-left student organisations included - against what is seen as a dilution of eligibility criteria. In fact, the meeting of the Inter-university Consultative Committee held on January 11 resolved to amend the relevant regulations of the State's universities to allow those with a pass in the Plus Two examinations to appear for the engineering entrance.

Voices of protest

The State Committee of the Students' Federation of India (SFI) has already pointed out this is a sure-shot way for quality dilution in engineering education. The SFI's argument is that there are already more than 5,000 vacant engineering seats in the State. Doing away with a minimum cut-off mark to qualify for engineering admission will only lead to private managements `selling' seats to the highest bidder never mind what his marks are, the SFI state president Sindhu Joy points out. In the medical entrance test too there is a slight change in eligibility criteria. This year onwards SC/ST candidates should get 40 per cent aggregate for physics, chemistry and biology to qualify for MBBS/BDS admission. For SEBC candidates, this figure is 45 per cent. Moreover, these candidates should also score a minimum of 40 per cent marks in the entrance tests. For the general category students, this cut-off has been pegged at 50 per cent.

Special reservations

Till last year candidates who had passed their bachelor's degree examinations (in specified main/ subsidiary subjects) with 50 per cent marks were eligible for MBBS admission. This year onwards, this facility has been extended to admissions to the BSMS, B.Sc. Nursing and B.Sc. MLT courses as well. However, these candidates should be qualified at the time of submitting the application.This year's entrance examinations will have some other special features in the special reservations category. The six seats for the `Kalaprathibha' and `Kalathilakom' candidates have been done away with. Similarly, it will be a `return to 2004' as far as the defence quota seats are concerned. In 2005, the seats for various categories of defence candidates were merged into one quota. This has now been cancelled and all quotas as they existed in 2004 have been restored.

MBBS and BDS

This year will see the introduction of one seat for the MBBS course for those who have completed BDS. This will be in self-financing colleges. However, the availability of such a seat will also depend on the final court verdict on the `Government quota' issue.Till last year, the outer rank-limit for availing special reservation for MBBS /BDS courses was five times the number of Government seats for MBBS/BDS courses. This year onwards, it will be seven times the number of seats. There is good news for those who decide to discontinue engineering studies after admissions are closed. Earlier, they needed to pay the Government Rs.50,000 as compensation. Now this amount has been reduced by half. Candidates who left to joint the National Defence Academy or the Naval Academy after admissions closed were exempted from paying the compensation. Now this exemption has been extended to those who leave to joint the Indian Military Academy after getting engineering admissions.


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