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Changes in rules put students on a sticky wicket

Deepa Kurup


38,000 students appear for GATE exam on Sunday


BANGALORE: Starting from this year students aspiring to enrol for postgraduate engineering courses will find themselves on a sticky wicket. The validity of the Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE 2009) score has been reduced from two years to one.

The implications will be two-fold. The admission schedule, which was completed in July, will now be a tightrope act for several students, especially those from smaller universities which run erratic examination schedules. Furthermore, academics feel this will deter students from opting for postgraduate courses in engineering colleges or science institutes.

This change is one of many that this all-India level examination will see in its structure this year. The examination, which is administered by the Indian Institute of Science and seven Indian Institutes of Technology, was held in the Andhra Pradesh-Karnataka region on Sunday. Nearly 38,000 students appeared for it.

S.C. Sharma, principal of R.V. College of Engineering, feels that this decision should have involved more consultation. “We find it difficult to attract bright minds to research and higher-education profiles. Introducing such technical hurdles will only deter students,” he said.

A GATE official from the Indian Institute of Science said this development was part of a larger trend: using raw scores instead of normalised or relative scores. “This means that marks alone determine ranks and no relative or normalised score will be calculated. Naturally with a fresh set of questions in every paper, hereafter it will be impossible to compare GATE scores of two consecutive years,” he said.

Recently, several prominent institutes and entrance examinations have moved away from using normalised scores to make it easier to assess individual and section-wise performances. However, given the fact that many Indian universities delay results and function in a non-centralised manner, this decision may put a large number of students in a quandary.

“Final year students often write multiple entrance examinations . In several universities the results are delayed inordinately, forcing them to take the examination a second time,” said M.S. Shivakumar, former registrar of VTU. He feels that if students are forced to take a break in education, they may opt to not return to academics.

The GATE official said that delayed results were common before, but now universities are largely running on schedule. Nishant Varadhan, who is a final year student at Kannur University, disagrees and claims that eighth semester results are often released as late as in August. “We have to submit our results by July 19. Till now the back-up plan was to work for a year and then join. If they want to go ahead with this rule, then they must ensure that every small university publishes its results punctually,” he says.

Other changes include merging the Information Technology paper with Computer Science paper. Computational Science and Electrical Sciences sections have also been discontinued in XE paper. Moreover, the GATE website has announced that the Pharmaceutical Sciences paper will be discontinued with effect from next year. The total marks have been reduced from 150 to 100 and eight new centres have been added. The number of students appearing for the examination has increased by nearly 27 per cent.

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