Those aspiring to join an engineering college in Karnataka will be relieved to hear that the deadlock around the Common Entrance Test (CET) has been revolved for engineering seats. With this, the government moves closer towards nailing the final agreement with private colleges following which the CET notification and brochures will be made available.
So what is drastically different with the all-important CET this year? The CET, which is the qualifying examination for admissions to all government colleges and government-quota seats in private colleges, will be held. Status quo has been declared on the fate of the UGET (Undergraduate Entrance Test) conducted by the private consortium of medical, engineering and dental colleges of Karnataka, better known as COMEDK. The proposal by the State government to ease the burden on the student and revert to the single-window admission system followed prior to 2004 was rejected by private colleges who seek to retain control over their admissions. However, the significant change here is that CET will not merely allot government college or government quota seats. Private colleges in the State are likely to join hands with the government (or the Karnataka Examinations Authority, the nodal agency that conducts admissions) and hand over their seats to CET.
So, if things go as per plan, the CET this year will accommodate private colleges too.
Special Officer (KEA) S.P. Kulkarni clarified that the government's offer to conduct admissions would indeed mean that students from outside the State too can take up the CET, in order to gain admission into those private colleges. “It will only mean that we should expand to handle 20,000 or 25,000 more students. We are equipped to make the necessary arrangements for that.” To dispel all anxiety among students, he also added that the CET brochure was nearly ready and once all the modalities are complete, the application forms and process details will be made public. The CET examination will be conducted on April 28 and 29, followed by a Kannada language test on April 30 for Horanadu and Gadinadu Karnataka students. That the CET application process, which is usually completed around mid-February has not taken off, has been a source of great anxiety for students not to mention their equally harried parents. Further, the list of colleges that are opting for the CET as their qualifying test will be notified earlier on to make things easier for students.
Of all the announcements made for the ensuing CET, the one that affects students most directly is an increase in government quota fee by no less than Rs.5,000. This means that the already pricey engineering degree just got more expensive. Students who opt for government-quota seats in private colleges will have to cough up an annual fee of Rs.30,000, a substantial Rs.5,000 more than last year. The overall tuition fee for the engineering degree, for all students who apply for “general merit” seats through the government's CET went up by Rs.20,000 spread over four years. This was the most significant decision that emerged out of the long series of meetings between the Department of Higher Education and the private college managements.
Therefore, engineering seats will be offered with a three-tiered differential fee structure. Status quo has been maintained for the seat sharing ratio; that is 50 per cent of all seats in private engineering colleges will be handed over to the government for allotment. In minority colleges, only 45 per cent of the seats will be offered under the government quota. In this allotment, reservation for various reserved categories will be followed. The seats offered herein under “general merit” category will cost students Rs.30,000 a year. Meanwhile, all the seats in government and government-aided colleges are offered at an annual fee of Rs.15,000. The third category is the private college seats allotted by the COMEDK which account for 50 per cent of the total seats in private colleges. The fee chargeable for this category (private quota) has been capped at Rs.1.25 lakh. During the time of admissions, colleges will (from this year on) submit details on their fee structure so students can choose the best and most economical option.
On the “poor and meritorious” quota introduced by the State government last year, the private managements had complained that offering 25 per cent of their total seats at Rs.15,000 placed inordinate stress on them. Private managements also argued that that with the Sixth Pay Commission to be implemented in the coming year, it would be difficult for them to continue to offer these subsidies. This the government has solved by agreeing to reimburse the colleges. The Higher Education Minister also said that funds worth Rs.5 crore will be earmarked for this in the coming year.
In effect, the “poor and meritorious” quota stays. However, unlike last year, this quota will stop at rank 20,000. Students above that rank will not be eligible to select seats under this quota.
The “poor and meritorious category” is open to all students who qualify the following criteria, based on the 2002 State Government Order on the “Creamy Layer Policy.”
According to the order, a student whose annual family income is less than Rs. 2 lakh, or whose family owns not more than 10 acres of farmland or 20 acres of C-class land will qualify for the 25 per cent government-quota seats.
Private colleges will offer these seats, allotted by the Karnataka Examinations Authority (KEA), at a concessional rate of Rs.15,000, as against the full fee of Rs.25,000.
Last year, more than 11,000 seats were left unfilled in engineering colleges across Karnataka. Colleges reportedly incurred huge losses, some to the tune of a few crores.