The Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) are understood to have contemplated scrapping of the computer-based Common Admission Test (CAT) before deciding to wait for a few more days before taking such a call. At least three IIM professors that Business Standard spoke to, confirmed that a discussion had taken place regarding doing away with the computer-based test and reverting to the paper-pencil model for this year.
Ever since CAT began on a disastrous note on November 28, nearly 8,000 students were not able to take the test in the first three days due to technical glitches, which the IIMs blamed on a virus. After the unsatisfactory show, the HRD ministry had demanded a report on the failure, which was submitted by Convenor of CAT 2009, Satish Deodhar.
"Till yesterday, we were concerned over this issue and with the ministry of HRD also intervening, we wondered on a way forward. But we decided that if things go smooth in the next few days, we would go ahead with the computer-based testing," said a professor from IIM Calcutta. "The CAT advisory group discusses the daily development with Prometric and NIIT and is keeping us updated on the issue. Today, of 361 labs only five labs were shut. We are hoping things will get better," added another professor.
The IIMs have maintained a united front publicly. When asked whether IIMs were mulling scrapping of computer-based CAT altogether, director of IIM Kozhikode Debashis Chatterjee said, "Mulling is different and taking a call is different. Nevertheless, I have not heard any such deliberations. As far as IIM Kozhikode is concerned, we would want the test to get over first. For IIMs, candidates' welfare comes first and we would not want to sacrifice on that."
Similarly, Satish Deodhar, said, "I have been in touch with various IIM directors and I have got no such instructions to scrap the computer-based test so far. Hence, I am continuing with it."
However, the IIMs realise that they would have to pull up their socks in the next few days if they intend to continue with the test. The IIMs would be concerned about the public outrage over the way the tests were conducted. Students have been vocal in their demand to the IIMs about scrapping the exam and conducting a fresh one. "The computer-based CAT has led to so much confusion among students. It would not be right to use this score for a seat at an IIM. We wish they cancel the exam," said a student in Bangalore. The consistent delays in conducting the exam, difficulty in recording biometric details and problems in logging into the system have been a bone of contention for the student community.
Director of TIME coaching institute, P Viswanath has written an open letter to the IIMs, urging them to revert to the paper and pencil test for the benefit of students. "We believe that the computerised CAT should be cancelled for this year -- and a paper and pencil test be conducted in its place. This will do justice to all people who have suffered because of the problems faced by them with the computerised CAT. After a series of more thorough dry runs, computerised CAT can be re-introduced next year after solving various problems that are currently plaguing the computerised CAT."
On the backdrop of the ire against them, the IIMs, Prometric and NIIT, the companies which were contracted to conduct the test had held a joint press conference trying to assuage student fears.
In association with Archana M Prasanna & Vinay Umarji