WITH THE number of qualified candidates on the merit list dropping to a seven-year low, the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) have called a special meeting on Wednesday to debate whether there are enough aspirants to fill all 11,279 seats.
As first reported by The Indian Express on Monday, since 2013, when IIT-JEE was renamed JEE-Advanced and the eligibility criteria for the entrance test was tweaked, the number of candidates who qualified the exam has always been at least twice the number of seats on offer. This year, however, the 18,138 students on the merit list are only 1.6 times the total seats, making it the smallest number of qualified candidates since 2012.
“There is a feeling that we may be on the razor edge. Some institutes have expressed concerns, which is why a meeting of the JAB (Joint Admission Board) has been called tomorrow (Wednesday) morning to discuss this and, if needed, think of a solution. It is in the interest of students that none of seats goes vacant,” said a member of the IIT-JAB, which advises all 23 IITs on the admission process, on the condition of anonymity.
According to sources, lowering the cut-off (126 marks for general, 114 for OBC, 63 for SC/ST) to accommodate more students on the merit list may not be an option now since results have been announced. In 2015, IIT-Mumbai, the organising institute for JEE-Advanced that year, had lower the bar after evaluation as an adequate number of aspirants failed to make the cut. But this was done before the declaration of results.
The Indian Express has learnt that the institutes are particularly concerned about the number of female candidates (2,076) on the merit list, which is also the lowest in seven years. This year, the IITs have introduced 800 supernumerary seats exclusively for women to improve the gender ratio on campus.
“The women, our experience over the last few admission cycles has shown, are usually a little inflexible in filling up choices (of institutes and seats). If cut-offs cannot be lowered, then candidates, especially women, will have to encouraged to fill as many choices as they can to ensure they are accommodated and seats don’t fall vacant,” said another member of IIT-JAB, who did not wish to be identified.
“The purpose of creating supernumerary seats for women to improve the gender ratio (on campus) may be defeated in the absence of separate cut-offs for female candidates. The IITs should have ideally announced a (separate) cut-off for five to 10 percentage points lower than the qualifying marks for the corresponding categories. With the current pool of roughly 2,000 women, it’s very unlikely they will be able to fill up all 800 supernumerary seats,”said professor Dheeraj Sanghi, who teaches computer science at IIT-Kanpur.
Out of the 18,138 who qualified JEE Advanced, 8,794 are general candidates, 3,140 are from the OBC category, 4,709 are Scheduled Castes and 1,495 are Scheduled Tribes.