The Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE) 2021, which has opened doors to non-engineers and younger candidates this year, has consequently registered a rise in the number of applicants. A total of 8,82,684 candidates have applied for the GATE 2021, which is a slight increase from 8.59 lakh applications last year. A total of 14,196 students have applied for newly introduced humanities subjects. This is more than the number of applications in nine existing subjects out of 27 papers. The least opted for paper this year is statistics while the most opted paper remains mechanical engineering.
Among humanities, most applicants — 8,634 — are females. Overall, the number of female applicants exam has also seen a rise. A total of 2,88,379 female students have applied this year. This is an increase of about 10,000 from last year.
Moreover, the GATE 2021 organising institute — IIT-Bombay — has relaxed the eligibility criteria to allow third-year students to take the exam as well. Earlier, the eligibility was limited to graduates or fourth-year students only. Prof. Deepankar Choudhury, organising chairman of GATE 2021 told indianexpress.com: “Due to the pandemic, several university exams could not take place and in the others, results were delayed. This led to a lot of confusion among the batch of 2020 who were not sure if they are now in the fourth year or in the third year as final exam results are not out yet. By relaxing the eligibility criteria, we have tried to lessen their worries.”
Interestingly, the youngest entry for the year is from a 15-year-old boy from Rajasthan. While a teenager at this age would have been studying in school, however, this child prodigy is enrolled in engineering at a state-based college. Similarly, defying odds is an 88-year-old who has also applied for the GATE 2021. While there has never been an upper age cap to the exam, this could be one of the eldest participants ever.
IIT-Bombay has also allowed students from humanities backgrounds to apply. “At the higher level of education, the boundaries between science and engineering education were already blurred and now with more interdisciplinary studies, boundaries between humanities and STEM are also being relaxed. There are students who pursue a combination of subjects for research, for instance, studying cognitive science with psychology. The New Education Policy (NEP) also focuses on interdisciplinary research. By allowing humanities students to appear for the exam, we aim to promote interdisciplinary research. We do not wish to exclude anything or anyone as the purpose of education is to be inclusive,” said Choudhury terming it as a historic discission.
If this becomes a success then students pursuing research in the field of economics, human resource etc will also be recruited through GATE. Currently, the UGC NET exam is held for such streams.
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