Students have so far had to chase an undisclosed target to be within the top 20 percentile to be considered for admission to the IITs.
The IIT council, at its 48th meeting in Chennai on Monday, ratified the decision to make the minimum marks 75%. The meeting of the council, the apex body that coordinates the functioning of all 16 IITs, was chaired by Union human resource development minister Smriti Irani.
“The council deliberated at length before deciding that in addition to the 20 percentile condition, it would offer another provision — that candidates in the general, OBC-NCL (non-creamy layer) categories should score 75% in the Class 12 board exams and those in the SC/ST category and persons with disability should score 70%,” HRD ministry secretary Ashok Thakur said.
He said the cutoff had been proposed by the IIT Joint Admission Board. “This will provide relief to students. Last year about 200 students could not make it even though they had top scores. Now in addition to the percentile formula, they will also have the Class 12 marks cutoff,” Thakur said.
The existing 20 percentile norm introduced in 2013 proved to be controversial as several IIT aspirants who did well in the JEE (Advanced) did not get a seat as they failed to finish in the top 20 percentile of the Class 12 board examinations. There were also variations in cutoffs across different boards.
The decision was welcomed by students and teachers. “Students had to chase an unknown figure to be within the top 20 percentile,” FIITJEE Tamil Nadu director Ankur Jain said. “They will now face less pressure for the board exams as they have a clear target. Fewer students will be disqualified.”
But some students said 75% was too low to be the IIT cutoff. “To do well in the JEE, students need to be strong in the basics, which is reflected in the board exams. I think 75% is too low. The IITs should raise the bar,” Class 12 student Vignesh Vijayakumar said.
There are currently 10,000 seats in the IITs — around 5,000 for general candidates and the rest those in reserved categories. “The cutoff will give more students a shot at the IITs,” said M Anandakrishnan, IIT-Kanpur chairman (board of governors) and former Anna University vice-chancellor.
Academics said the IITs should also relax the two entrance examinations. “JEE (Main) achieves the purpose for the IITs. JEE (Advanced) is an avoidable burden,” says S Vaidhyasubramaniam, dean, planning and development, Sastra University. “The HRD ministry should mandate that all deemed universities also adopt the JEE (Main) for admissions to multiple entrance exams and move toward the national educational policy goal of a National Testing Facility.”
Apart from this announcement, the council also decided to roll out two schemes for students from the Northeast, the most educationally backward region in the country. It also plans to set up an Alumni Centre in Bangalore, for the vast network of IIT alumni. “Bangalore is the IT capital and it will be a tremendous opportunity for startups and industry-academia interaction,” Thakur said.