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Vacant Seats in IITs: Curtailing the Shameful Waste

vacantMedical, engineering and civil services have been the traditional favourites of Indian geniuses for several generations. Lakhs of engineering aspirants every year aim to enter IITs – the premier engineering institutes of India. Hence, it is both perplexing and confusing that these IITs have hundreds of vacant seats that go waste. Last year, there were 217 vacant IIT seats even after three rounds of JEE counselling.

In 2012, 322 seats IIT seats remained vacant while in 2011, as many as 750 seats in the IITs remained unused. The problem led High Court to issue strict orders to IITs and NITs to find a solution to it.

Reasons why IIT seats remain vacant

While the number of vacant seats in IITs has gone down considerably year-on-year, it is to be noted that even the lure of being called IITians has not been able to attract enough students to unpopular engineering streams or branches such as Architecture, Chemical Engineering, Geophysics, Mining, Metallurgy and other such tech courses.

Lack of Confidence in New IITs

ConfidenceSome of the academicians had been opposing the increase in number of the IITs and suggested that the government should focus on the quality of education to existing IITs instead. They believed that establishing more IITs recklessly only means that the Brand IIT is taking a hit. 6 of the 8 new IITs established in 2008 have still not been able to move to their own campuses and are operating out of temporary locations. There are others who believe that the new IITs are just going through teething troubles and will soon yield results and will win confidence of the students.

More Private Institutes Coming Up

The number of private engineering institutes is another probable reason why seats at IITs and NITs remain vacant. A case in point is AICTE which allowed opening up of four new engineering colleges in Odisha. As a result, the state engineering institutes had as many as 15,000 vacant seats.

Provision to Change Engineering Streams or IITs

NITs and IITs have a provision that students who score good GPA in their first year can change to a branch of their choice in the second year. Similarly, there are instance where students migrate from one IIT to another IIT – leaving a vacancy behind. While it is not advisable to make students stick to a branch they don’t like, vacancies like these are a shameful waste of IIT resources.

No Compromise on Quality of Students

Elite campuses of India do not want to compromise on the quality of students they get as it will affect their overall reputation and their excellent results and alumni track record. They would rather let the seats go vacant then lowering their admission parameters.

Reserved Category IIT seats

In 2011-12, 80 disabled category seats in IITs were left vacant. Since there were no clear directions, they could not be opened for students.

What are IITs doing about it: Common Counselling for IITs and NITs

Till this year, there was separate admission counselling for NITs and IITs. Students used to receive multiple offers and eventually, used to take admission in the institute of their choice. The other seat offered to such students remained vacant.

Now, the HRD Ministry has pressurized IITs and NITs to hold a common JEE counselling process to synchronize their admissions from next year. Common database for IIT and NIT admissions will mean that of a candidates chooses a particular institute, his or her admission to all other institutes will automatically get cancelled and the vacant seat will be offered to the next student in the merit list.

Multiple Rounds of Counselling

Since 2012, three rounds of IIT JEE counselling take place to curtail the number of vacant seats in the Indian Institutes of Technology.

Exit Policy for JEE Dropoutss

Last-minute IIT JEE dropouts also used to leave several vacancies behind. Candidates used to block IIT seats by paying the course fee but either did not turn up for registration or desert the course in between if they found a better option elsewhere (either in terms of engineering branch or engineering institute). Hence, a new exit policy was introduced for such candidates.

Now, IIT aspirants who do not wish to join the institute they chose during counselling can inform about their change of heart before the third round of counselling. In such a case, their admission fees is refunded and they are also allowed to sit for subsequent JEE exam.

This has been especially useful in reducing vacant seats in new IITs. Students who want to try for a better JEE rank and a chance to get to the old IITs in the subsequent year would have to withdraw seats properly. Otherwise, they would not be eligible to appear for the JEE exam again.

Switching Reserved Category Seats to General Category Seatss

Delhi High Court has now directed IITs that if reserved category seats are left vacant, they should be reverted to their parent category and allotted to general category students.

Dissociating Unpopular Courses from JEE System

While mainstream engineering courses at IITs are popular, there are few takers for IIT courses like Mineral Engineering with MBA, Mining Engineering, Ocean Engineering, Petroleum Engineering, Pharmaceutics, Process Engineering with MBA, and Pulp & Paper Engineering. Seats in these courses remain vacant even after multiple rounds of counselling sessions.

Hence, IIT authorities are considering that individual institutes should take responsibility of filling up seats in these courses. There is also a suggestion that admission to such courses should be dissociated from JEE. Some experts believe that aptitude-based counselling can help IITs guide students to the best courses for them.