Saturday, April 21, 2007

IIM admissions

IIM admissions are on hold again. ET reports:

The IIMs have decided to announce their admission lists only after further communication from the government. Though the government and IIMs can now breathe easy that they have avoided any confrontation, it’s the aspirants that have been left on the tenterhooks.

The IIMs had earlier decided that they wouldn’t wait beyond April 21 to announce their admission lists. On April 5, the central government had asked the IIMs to hold their admissions in abeyance. The government has petitioned the Supreme court to vacate its stay on the implementation of the new quota regime, which will provide 27% reservation for other backward classes (OBCs). The petition will be taken up by the apex court on Monday

The IIMs had proposed a two-stage announcement of results. First, they would announce the general category list. After the OBC quota position was clarified by the SC/government, they would release the second list pertaining to the expansion in seats. The HRD ministry's position thus far has been: all or nothing.

The IIMs call about 2000 people for interview. These candidates will have received offers from other b-schools with deadlines for acceptance. The problem is that on accepting an offer, candidates have to fork out large sums as non-refundable fee/deposit. At XLRI, the amount is Rs 1.76 lakh out of a total fee for the first year of Rs 2 lakh. Getting loans to finance such deposits is not possible. Middle-class families will have a tough time raising cash to pay deposits pending the announcement of IIM results.

The problem is not confined to the 2000 or so candidates awaiting IIM results. There are second-round effects on other students. When a candidate who has got into an IIM turns down the offer from a second-tier business school, his seat becomes available to somebody who has accepted an offer from a third-tier busines school. So, candidates hoping to get into a second tier business school will now have to think of paying the deposit at a third-tier school. The cumulative financial costs could be fairly heavy.

However, even if the IIMs' plans for announcing the general list go through, the OBC candidates will face the same problem until the quota issue is resolved. You could argue: why should one set of students alone face uncertainty and the resultant costs?

Well, there are those who contend that the SC has stayed only the OBC quota; it has not asked for the general list to be put on hold. It is the ministry that has asked for the latter. On TV yesterday, I heard lawyer Harish Salve raise the issue of IIMs'a autonomy in such matters. Does a joint secretary in the HRD ministry have the right to issue such a fiat, he asked? (The JS, in his communication, does mention that the order to the IIMs has been cleared by the 'competent authority'- read, minister). Salve also said something about raising this matter in the SC on April 23.

I guess we have to await the SC's orders on April 23.

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