IITs to lower cut-offs for SCs/STs

25 Aug 2008, 0310 hrs IST, Hemali Chhapia, TNN

MUMBAI: Directors of the premier Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) have decided to lower entry levels for Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST) students even further to cope with the issue of reserved seats falling vacant.

On Sunday, the seven heads who met in Kharagpur unanimously agreed to allow a 50% relaxation of scores for SC/ST students, up from the current 40%, for the upcoming Joint Entrance Exam (JEE) in April 2009.

With regard to the JEE-2008 scores, if the last general category student was admitted with an overall score of 172 out of 489, the aggregate cut-off for an SC/ST student was 104 (after a 40%
relaxation). If the general category cut-off in 2009 is the same, the bar for SC/ST candidates would be lowered to 86 (50% of 172). Similarly, subject-wise cut-offs would also be relaxed.

This means that with the last general category student scoring 5 in maths, 0 in physics and 3 in chemistry in JEE 2008, an SC/ST student who had scored up to 40% lower- 3 in maths, 0 in physics and 1.8 in chemistry - was given a seat in the IITs.

Now that relaxation will also be 50%. In 2009, if the general category subject cut-offs remain constant, an SC/ST student with 2.5 in maths, 0 in physics and 1.5 in chemistry would squeeze into the hallowed institutes. IIT-Guwahati director Gautam Barua told TOI, "The change
has been brought about keeping in mind that the intake for SC/ST students will go up over the years."

Not only are there more seats for the reserved category candidates because of the eight new IITs, but the 27% OBC rollout, which requires the IITs to keep their general category seats intact, will see the intake for SC/STs go up by over 50% from 2008 to 2010.

Moreover, the IITs have also informed the HRD ministry that this year's vacant seats would be carried forward and added to next year's total seats. The changes do not end there. Scores will be further lowered by another 50% for reserved category students who will be taken in for the IITs’ year-long preparatory course (86 would be further lowered to 43).

This course, which is like a feeder class, trains quota students for a year to equip them to qualify for the IITs.

"Lowering academic standards is the only way to fill so many reserved category seats," said a former JEE chairman. IIT heads have also decided to alter the manner in which students are
shortlisted for the IITs. Currently, the lowest 20% students are eliminated and a minimum cut-off score is decided.

However, since the last two years, these rock-bottom qualifying marks have rendered the minimum subject-wise scores to be achieved meaningless. "We have decided to change the 80:20 rule. It will be a minor change. But we will now have more rational subject-wise cut-off
scores," added Barua.

Lastly, the directors have decided to write to the ministry to permit them to hold JEE-2009 in Singapore too. Currently, the exam is being conducted in 117 cities. For the first time this year, JEE-2008 was conducted in Dubai.



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