If the number of vacant seats at the IITs has been the highlight of the admission-trivia for the last few years with roughly 750 seats reportedly going unfilled in 2011, this year it is the preference for Mumbai and Delhi IITs by the top rankers that is making headlines.
For some, the big-city attraction seems to be the main reason, while for some others it is the infrastructure, quality of academics, exposure and placement record. The preference for old IITs is understandable compared to the new ones located in far-flung areas, but why do candidates give a go-by to, say a premier IIT like Chennai?
It is not the pecking order of computer science followed by electrical and mechanical engineering that the top candidates want, but a combination of both the discipline and the place.
Nothing unusual. But this year, they have particular penchant for Mumbai and Delhi. Some students are even willing to give up the stream of their choice for a place of their choice. For instance, candidates who could have got a computer science seat in Chennai have opted for a mechanical engineering seat in Mumbai.
A cursory glance of the opening/closing ranks and the allotment of seats show that most of the rank holders under 100 have opted for Mumbai followed by Delhi. The opening rank for the top course at IIT Chennai, electrical engineering is 100; followed by computer science at 103. Mechanical opening rank is 193. In other words, nobody among the first 100 ranks have looked at Chennai as a possible option although its electrical and computer science departments are highly rated.
This should be good news for those with ranks higher than 100 from Chennai who wish to stay back in their city. For instance, a candidate with 2235th rank can get civil engineering at Chennai in the first round itself.
Interestingly, the popular ranking of IITs by some periodicals do not seem to match the perception of the aspirants. For instance, India Today has ranked IIT Kanpur as the topmost engineering institution in the country this year, but except for computer science, electrical and civil engineering, the opening ranks are well over 1000. The other biggie among the old IITs, Kharagpur, again one of the favourites of the ranking publications, is either in a similar or worse situation.
Another side of the story is that most of the middle rank holders, say from 3000 to 4500 end up in one of those less fashionable places or less popular courses and many of them drop out even after paying the fee or joining. Last year, about 750 seats were vacant. Such a pity for a test that is contested fiercely by half a million students after a gruelling preparation of at least three years.
Looks like the IIT tag is no more the attraction, but the course and the place. The Joint Admission Board (JAB) will again be faced with a sizable number of unfilled seats that might add up to 8 percent of the general category seats. A simple analysis of the uptake of the last few years show that it is mainly the course followed by the place that make the difference.
Rectifying the problem of such a large number of vacant seats in the most coveted and competed brand of technical education in India doesn’t seem to be in Kapil Sibal’s reforms agenda. Why run courses that nobody wants? Why dilute the brand by opening up new institutions when the students have other options such as NITs or even private institutions.
Following the admission to IITs, will be the counselling for NITs (National Institute of Technology) using the ranks from the AIEEE examination. The trend so for has been most of the top rankers opt for NIT Trichy followed by NITs either in Suratkal or Warangal.
The same story repeats in selection and omission of the NITs and the numerous national institutions spread across the country, some old and some new. However, the saving grace for NITs, compared to IITs, will be the 50 percent quota for the candidates from the state. Therefore, an NIT in Agartala, even if doesn’t have many takers from other parts of the country will cater to the needs of the state.
The story is not over yet. There are two more rounds of counselling.