From next year, there will be one entrance test called Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) for admission to undergraduate engineering programmes of all centrally funded technical institutions. The JEE will be conducted in two parts - a main test and an advance test - and will have multiple-choice objective-type questions.
The NITs, IIITs, IISERs and other centrally funded technical institutions will toe the human resource development minister's line by according 40 per cent weightage to the Class XII Board exam marks (normalised on percentile basis), 30 per cent to the performance in the JEE-main test and 30 per cent to the performance in JEEadvance test.
However, the minister was forced to revise this formula in case of the IITs in the wake of the "stiff resistance" by the institutes.
Relenting to the major demands made by the IITs, Sibal announced on Monday that the 15 premier engineering institutes will use the Class XII Board exam marks and the performance in the JEE-main test only for filtering the best candidates.
The IITs will then check the JEE-advance papers of the top 50,000 aspirants who qualify on the basis of the screening process. The final all-India-rank (AIR) list will then be based only on the marks scored in the JEE-advance test.
The HRD minister has also allowed the IITs to have a complete academic control of the advance test, which means the questions of the advance paper will be set by the joint admission board of the IITs.
The decision was arrived at a joint council meeting of the IITs, NITs and the IIITs on Monday.
Justifying the rationale behind the decision, director of IIT-Kanpur Sanjay Dhande said: "Historically, the academic training at the IITs has been very different. Any experiment in technical education is introduced at our institutes first and then emulated by the rest of the country. Hence, the admission process of the IITs should be different."
Sibal, however, was more candid. "Let's be honest here. There was a lot of resistance from the IIT system. We have accepted their point of view that I don't understand that much," he said.
The 'one nation one test' was first proposed in 2010 during the IIT council meeting in Manesar.
The rationale behind the common entrance exam for engineering or the JEE was to reduce psychological and financial stress on students because of multiple entrance tests and also to give more importance to Class 12 results than private coaching.
Consultation with different stakeholders proved to be a Herculean task for the ministry and took almost twoand-half years. Along the way, the IITs expressed their objections to the use of Board marks in determining admission. They also felt that following the same admission process as others could dilute their brand equity.
To keep his mission on track, that is to introduce the test by 2013, Sibal has had to make compromises. The only consolation for him is that the IITs may come on board and accept the ministry's formula (40-30-30) by 2015.
"The IITs have agreed to embrace the 40-30-30 formula by 2015, if they are happy with its effect on the NITs and IIITs," the minister said.