New Delhi: The new format of entrance test to IITs and NITs is "non-discriminatory" and has resulted in a "perceptible increase" in the number of girl students and those coming from rural areas compared to previous years, HRD Minister M M Pallam Raju has said.
In a letter to Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy, who had brought to Raju's notice the students affected due to the policy change, the Union minister said students from that state were still the single largest group from any state qualifying in the JEE (Mains) Examination.
"I am happy to share with you that as per the last two years trend, still one out of every fifth student in every thousand ranks up to a rank of 15,000 is from Andhra Pradesh," Raju said in his letter.
The new two-tier system introduced from this year for admission to IITs, NITs and other centrally-funded institutes had triggered resentment and confusion among students especially those coming from Andhra Pradesh and some other states.
With the affected students moving court after failing to make it to the prestigious institutes despite scoring good marks, Reddy had brought the issue to Raju's notice.
The minister, though, defended the new pattern saying it was "non-discriminatory" and the pattern has been upheld by the Andhra Pradesh High Court.
Noting that the policy was meant to promote more inclusion, he said that since this was the first year of examination under the new format, "some students might have not been able to correctly assess the importance of board examination which was almost the same as that of competitive examination".
He said the policy decision to include board examination marks after normalisation on percentile basis was by his Ministry after a lot of consultation with experts, NIT council, state boards and also after discussions with the Central Advisory Board of Education, the highest decision making body on education in the country.
Raju told Reddy that in Andhra Pradesh itself, percentage of rural students has increased from 2-4 per cent (up to a rank of 15,000) to 5.5-6 per cent.
"Similarly, for this rank range, the percentage representation of female students is 3.5-4 per cent as against 2-3 per cent earlier.
"This was one of the major reason for including board marks for entry into JEE Mains.
Raju, however, said that it was possible that a student getting lower marks in both class XII and JEE Main gets a better rank than another students securing higher marks in both the examinations if they belong to different boards.
He said the different board performances have been compared using JEE Main as the "anchor" because it is the only common examination which has been undertaken by all students appearing in JEE Main from different boards.
"This is a common practice in equating different scores and was done on the basis of experts advice. Percentile are a good basis of comparing