Entrance and competitive exams in India were to undergo several changes in 2018. To start with, a single engineering entrance exam was under process. It was proposed that a common entrance exam for engineering will replace the plethora of national, state, college level exams. It was aimed at making things simpler for engineering aspirants. Another purpose was to ensure better chances of getting a seat by having a common place for admissions.

However, authorities have concluded that scenario in engineering admissions is quite different from that of medical admissions. In engineering, a number of seats far exceeds the number of applicants. Government college seats, of course, are limited in number although private colleges seats are abundant. The holding of a single exam is either not needed or would complicate the existing system.

More than 5,000 seats remained vacant in JoSAA counselling (joint counselling for NITs, IIITs, CFTIs, IITs) at end of fifth round. Shockingly, computer science course in IITs also were left gasping for seekers. As to why such a situation has arisen has been attributed to students not getting either stream or college of choice. Say for example a student wants civil engineering, but is getting aerospace engineering in IIT Delhi, then he/she will not take that seat despite getting a good college.

Karnataka engineering admissions saw a similar grimness; over 29,000 engineering seats have remained unfilled. Out of 62,000 government and government quota seats, 19,000 are vacant. While this spells out clearly that engineering is witnessing a decline in takers, competition still remains fierce for top colleges. Only an excellent rank in top few thousand gets an elite institution to a student.

The news of JEE Main 2018 being held instead of proposed single entrance exam is largely a good thing for students. In the first place, it is difficult for a student to prepare for a new format of an examination. If the new exam was introduced then one would have to prepare for its syllabus and all that one had done in last two years would have been futile. Also, such a change at last moment causes confusion as students and teachers rush to understand methodologies introduced like normalization and new marking schemes.

There are a countable number of engineering entrance exams in India. All of them are at national level (open to all) except a few that are for state students only. Only board exam marks are used for admission in some states. There are many students who focus only on state level entrance exams, and even for them it is a welcome decision.

Even so, MHRD has asked AICTE to submit a report on single entrance exam system. For now, students in class 12 can be assured that there is no such change being introduced from this session.

Entrance exams, competitive exams, and overall education system in India has been both applauded and criticised by academia. There are conflicting views on a number of things. However, one must not forget, that a healthy debate is the first step towards a fruitful change in society. Views are welcome from all sides on whether there should be a single entrance exam for engineering or should JEE system be continued?

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