After months of wrangling, government and IITs have resolved their differences on the entrance exam row by agreeing on a compromise agreement over holding the common exams from next year.
As per the agreement, admission to the IITs from 2013 would be based only on rank achieved in the advance test subject to the condition that selected candidates are in the top 20 percentile of successful candidates of their Boards.
This formula replaces the proposed format of giving weightage to the class XII board results, which was vehemently opposed by the IITs.
The compromise was reached at a meeting of IIT Council in New Delhi on Wednesday, the highest decision-making body having representatives from government and Directors of all the 16 of these institutes.
HRD Minister Kapil Sibal, who is the head of the Council, skipped the crucial meeting which was then chaired by M N Sharma, Chairman of the Board of Governors of IIT, Madras.
"There was complete unanimity among the council members about the new format," Sharma told reporters in New Delhi on Wednesday.
He said NIT council and the IIIT council will meet early next month to evaluate the system in view of the tweaking of the proposed format.
The government had earlier proposed a common entrance which was rejected by IIT-Delhi and IIT-Kanpur and some others were also likely to follow suit.
Sibal later said a huge objective had been achieved with the proposed common test despite the changes pressed by the IITs.
He felt that the government's aim of reducing pressure from students has been achieved along with a partial check on capitation fees.
The percentile ranking system of selection is expected to make admissions to the IITs tougher and more competitive, an official said.
According to a study by CBSE, the percentage of the last student on the merit list according to the percentile ranking in its board stood at 78 percent, while the percentage of the last student under this formula in Uttar Pradesh board stands at about 65 percent. In Tamil Nadu Board, it stands at 78 percent.
Sharma hoped the faculty federation will come onboard with Wednesday’s decision which has been vetted by the Joint Admission Board (JAB) of the IITs in its meeting last Saturday.
The Council's decision will be deliberated by the respective IIT Senates even as IITs, the NITs and the IIITs have agreed to joint counselling for admitting students to their institutes.
Sharma said that as part of the new formula, the advance test will be held after the main exam.
There will be adequate time between the two tests. Only the top 1.50 lakh candidates in the main will be qualified to appear in the advance examination.
"Admissions to the IITs will be based only on all India rank in advance test, subject to condition that such candidates are in the top 20 percentile of successful candidates of their boards," he said.
Sibal, who skipped the meeting apparently to show that there is no interference from the government, apologised for his absence.
"I would like to apologise for my absence from this crucial meeting of the IIT Council today. I have always taken my duties as a Union minister seriously and tried to do my best for the nation and most importantly its children who are its future require of me," he said in his message read out at the meeting.
The government had on 28th May announced the new test from 2013, under which aspiring candidates for IITs and other central institutes such as NITs and IIITs will have to take tests under a new format of common entrance test, which will also take the plus two board results into consideration.
Noting that IIT Council has among its members wisest persons from the academia and research community, Sibal said the issues such as the burden on the students from appearing in multiple exams should be addressed.
IIT faculty federation, meanwhile, has welcomed the development on Wednesday saying most of the concerns of the federation have been addressed.
"This is in positive direction and most of the concerns of the IIT Senate has been addressed," federation secretary A K Mittal said.
IIT alumni, however, expressed its reservation about the decisions arrived on Wednesday and said it will decide its future course of action.
In a statement, it said that the top 20 percentile criteria is pro-rich and will be detrimental to the interests of students from rural India.