Need to change
Nitin Saxena, chairman, UGARC (undergraduate academic programme review committee), IIT Kanpur, says that students who qualify for the international Olympiads have already proved their abilities and do not need an additional check in the form of the IIT-JEE exam. “Every year, six Indian students represent the nation at the globally acclaimed Olympiads. They go through a rigorous preparation process to pass through various government-held Olympiads,” he says.
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Unfortunately, a majority decide to pursue their higher education in institutes abroad. “This framework has been put into place to try and retain this exceptional talent,” he adds.
Students qualifying for Olympiads can apply to the department of their specialised subject. “The exact framework regarding the acceptance or disqualification of their candidature is up to the respective departments. Departments may decide to hold screening tests- the process has not yet been decided. Based on their decision, the candidate’s application will be forwarded to the institute’s senate, which will take the final call about the candidate’s application,” adds Saxena.
The institute has just introduced an alternate mechanism based on a principal agreement, says Saxena. “There is no guarantee regarding admission of these candidates. Numerous measures will be put into place to ensure that only most qualified candidates get entry into the institute through this route,” he adds.
Partha Halder, head of department, (Chemistry) and academic head (FIITJEE Group), says that currently, there is minimal awareness regarding Olympiads amongst students as well as parents. “We screen candidates who come to prepare for IIT-JEE and introduce the best of the lot for theOlympiads,” he says.
Since the Olympiads is a niche test, many students do not even consider the idea of trying it out. “Thus far, Olympiads are just about the prestige of qualifying for the test, as it is not a mass level exam. Getting direct admission into a few of the nation’s top Engineering institutes through the Olympiads is still a foreign concept to many,” adds Halder.
Parents also tend to confuse the local level Olympiads with the government-held test. “We have a long journey before the concept of Olympiads becomes well-known amongst students and parents alike,” Halder adds.
Similar concept elsewhere
IIT Bombay had introduced a similar concept for admission to the institute in 2018. Avinash Mahajan, dean (academic programmes), IIT Bombay, says, “Candidates who qualify for the International Mathematics Olympiad are eligible to apply for the Bachelor of Science in Mathematics programme. The institute has earmarked six seats for the respective students. However, final admission depends upon a screening process, post which the decision will be taken by the respective department and finally, the institute’s senate.”
Explaining the reason behind introducing the concept solely for students of Mathematics, Mahajan says, “Generally, Maths students decide early on that this will be their chosen area of specialisation. With the Olympiad route, we give them an option to stay focused by not having to prepare for other subjects to appear in the IIT-JEE exam.”
Since 2018, the institute has taken few admissions based on the Olympiad route, tells Mahajan.