How IIMs are using CAT 2018 to take in more non-engineers

IIMs want students to come from diverse academic backgrounds and therefore IIM professors are trying to redesign questions for its MBA entrance exam CAT.  Photo: HT

IIMs want students to come from diverse academic backgrounds and therefore IIM professors are trying to redesign questions for its MBA entrance exam CAT. Photo: HT

New Delhi: As their classrooms continue to be dominated by men and engineers, the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) are trying to add diversity, which will ultimately show up in corporate boardrooms over the next few years. At the centre of this strategy is IIM’s Common Admission Test (CAT 2018), which will see a change in the type of questions being asked.

Although the IIMs have decided not to change the broad pattern in this year’s CAT examination, yet questions will be framed in a manner to create a level field for students from all streams, including arts and commerce.

IIM officials say they do not want the CAT pattern to be biased towards engineering students as there is a need for academic diversity in India’s top B-schools.

What kind of questions should you expect in the CAT

CAT 2018 convener and IIM Calcutta professor Sumanta Basu told Livemint that there was no significant change in the broad pattern of the CAT exam. The IIMs are continuing with the same set of three sections:

Section I: Verbal ability and reading comprehension

Section II: Data interpretation and logical reasoning

Section III: Quantitative ability

But within these sections, there is a change. “We may focus on questions that test candidates on fundamentals,” Basu said. “Our effort will primarily involve framing the correct types of questions instead of changing the pattern altogether,” he added.

The CAT exam does not have a syllabus. Only mocks tests, to be posted soon on the CAT website, can help you understand the pattern of questions. In the three-hour-long computer-based exam, candidates get 60 minutes each for the three sections.

According to analysis of previous CAT exams by coaching centres, the focus has been more on testing reasoning and analytical ability than grammar and vocabulary. This could be a reason why engineers have the upper hand in the CAT.

How are engineers filling up IIMs in large numbers

If you walk into a typical classroom in any of the 20 IIMs in India, chances are high you will encounter students who have already completed their engineering courses. Even popular author Chetan Bhagat first studied in IIT Delhi and then joined IIM Ahmedabad before working as an investment banker at Goldman Sachs.

IIM Calcutta, ranked consistently among the top management colleges in India, has an overwhelming number of 88% students coming in from an engineering background. The figures may be better in some other IIMs, like the one in Ahmedabad (68%), but the IIMs remain a bastion of engineering graduates.

Engineers dominate list of top scorers in the CAT exams. In 2017, there were only three non-engineers who scored 100 percentile.

What are the other changes in IIM selection process

Over the last few years, the IIMs have been making concentrated efforts to have more academic diversity, not just through the CAT but via other aspects of the selection process.

IIM Calcutta, for example, allots only 15 points out of 50 to the CAT score the while personal interview (PI) and a written ability test (WAT) together receive almost double the weight (24+5). Therefore, a candidate who can write well on a given topic has a higher chance of getting through IIM Calcutta than someone who is good in analysis but has poor writing and communication skills.

IIM Bangalore, on the other hand, wants you to be at your best in PI. The weightage is 30 for PI and 25 for CAT.

If you are applying to IIM Ahmedabad then a science student has to score at least 55% in class XII exams to get 1 point in the preliminary screening process while a commerce student needs only 50% and arts 45%.

How are IIMs giving importance to gender diversity

Besides skewed towards engineers, classrooms at IIMs are also skewed against the fairer sex. IIMs, both old and new ones, are walking the extra mile to ensure that women representation.

The admission of girls in IIMs during the last three years has shown an increasing trend with the total women admitted going up from 881 in 2015-17 to 1211 in 2017-19, according to the union ministry of human resource development. IIM Ahmedabad’s flagship PGP course saw 28% women students in 2017, as compared to 14% women in 2015.

IIM Rohtak has been the most successful so far in gender diversity with a ratio of over 50% going in favour of women.

[“Source-livemint”]

CAT examination 2018: IIMs announce registration dates, full schedule and venues

A file photo of CAT aspirants waiting outside an examination centre in Navi Mumbai. Photo: Mint

A file photo of CAT aspirants waiting outside an examination centre in Navi Mumbai. Photo: Mint

The Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) on Saturday announced the schedule, dates and venues where the Common Admission Test 2018 (CAT 2018) for entry into India’s top business management schools will be held. CAT is not only the entrance examination for all IIMs for their MBA programs but is also accepted for admission into several other top B-schools in India. The 2018 CAT examination will be held across 147 cities on November 25. This year IIM, Calcutta, is coordinating the exam.

Here is all you need to know about CAT Examination 2018:

1. CAT 2018 will be conducted on 25 November in two sessions. CAT examination centres will be spread all over the country in 147 cities.

2. Registration for CAT 2018 will be open from 8 August to 19 September. CAT application form can be filled in online mode only and the examination is also conducted online.

3. CAT candidates will be given the option to select 4 test cities in the order of preference. Cities and centres will be assigned to the candidates only after the last date for CAT 2018 registration and hence candidates need not rush to block slots and cities in the initial days of registration.

4. IIMs will try their best to assign candidates to their first preferred city. In case it is not possible, they will be assigned a city following their given order of preference. In the rare case that a candidate is not allotted any of the preferred cities, he/she will be allotted an alternate city. However, candidates will not be able to select which of the two sessions they want to appear at because it will be assigned randomly.

5. Candidates must pay the registration fee through online payment modes only, which will include credit cards, debit cards and net banking.

6. After submission of the CAT application form, candidates will be permitted to download their examination admit card from 24th October onwards, till the date of test.

7. The duration of the test will be 180 minutes. There will be three sections. The first one will be on verbal ability and reading comprehension. Second section is on data interpretation and logical reasoning while the third section is on quantitative ability.

8. Candidates will be allotted exactly 60 minutes for answering questions in each section and they will not be allowed to switch from one section to another while answering questions in a section. Some questions in each section may not be of multiple-choice type. Instead, direct answers will have to be typed on the screen. The tutorials will clearly explain this. Also, IIMs will allow use of basic on-screen calculator for computation during the CAT examination.

9. Tutorial to understand the format of the CAT exam will be available on the CAT website from 17 October. Candidates are advised to work on the tutorials available on the CAT website well in advance.

10. The CAT website contains a section on Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) that addresses some of the commonly asked queries regarding CAT 2018. Candidates may also contact the CAT helpdesk at 1800-2663-549 or [email protected] CAT results are likely to be out only in January.

[“Source-livemint”]

Govt proposes to replace UGC with new commission

The new Higher Education Commission of India Act is likely to be tabled in Parliament during the monsoon session. Photo: Mint

The new Higher Education Commission of India Act is likely to be tabled in Parliament during the monsoon session. Photo: Mint

New Delhi: The Union government on Wednesday unveiled the draft of a bill to replace higher education regulator University Grants Commission (UGC) with a Higher Education Commission.

The new commission to be established through an Act will not have grant-making authority, will promote reduced inspection system and will focus more on quality outcome at universities and colleges.

Human resource development (HRD) minister Prakash Javadekar, who claimed this is a key education reform, said the new body will be more representational. Its board will have senior bureaucrats from the ministries of HRD, skills and entrepreneurship, and science and technology, in a way ending the monopoly of HRD ministry in regulating higher education.

“The draft Act is in accordance with the commitment of the government for reforming the regulatory systems that provide more autonomy to higher educational institutes to promote excellence and facilitate holistic growth of the education system,” Javadekar said in a tweet.

He said the new Act will separate grant-making functions, end inspection raj, focus on academic quality and empower the new commission to enforce quality issues.

According to the draft bill, university and college managements found wanting and violating penalty imposed by the commission “shall be liable for prosecution as per procedure laid down under the Criminal Procedure Code and may be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend up to three years”.

The new body will specify learning outcomes for colleges and universities, prescribe teaching, assessment, research standards.

UGC reform was part of the BJP’s general election manifesto in 2014. To be sure, a similar restructuring was discussed and promoted by the previous United Progressive Alliance government but could not become a law due to lack of support from the parliament.

Over the last four years, the HRD ministry has deliberated on several models like a single regulator for higher education by merging UGC, National Council of Teacher Education (NCTE) and All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE); however, the plans were not taken forward.

“This Act provides for establishing the Higher Education Commission of India repealing the University Grants Commission Act, 1956,” said the draft bill which is open for public feedback till 7 July.

“Whereas for promoting uniform development of quality of education in higher educational institutions, there is a need for creation of a Body that lays down uniform standards, and ensures maintenance of the same through systematic monitoring and promotion, Whereas the existing regulatory structure as reflected by the mandate given to University Grants Commission required redefinition based on the changing priorities of higher education and allow its growth,” underlines the draft bill on need for a change.

The new commission shall consist of a chairperson, vice chairperson and 12 members to be appointed by the central government. The secretary of the commission will act as the member-secretary. Of the 12 members, three members will represent union government namely: secretary of higher education, secretary of ministry of skill development and entrepreneurship and secretary, department of science and technology. Besides, there will be an “industry doyen” among the board members.

[“Source-livemint”]

Mint Money tells you when it makes sense to take an education loan, how it can benefit you and how much it can cost

Keeping your accumulated savings invested and taking an education loan instead can benefit you. Photo: Alamy

Keeping your accumulated savings invested and taking an education loan instead can benefit you. Photo: Alamy

Any big-ticket spending requires you to either have the required funds in place or a financing option. When dealing with long-term financial goals, such as higher education of children, you have the advantage of planning much in advance. Here’s how you can go about the planning.

Start early

A lot of parents have an inclination to send their children abroad for higher education, at least at the post-graduate level, said Suresh Sadagopan, a certified financial planner and founder of Ladder 7 Financial Advisories. “In that case, the planning needs to start really early. They would need a horizon of at least 10-15 years. When we talk of international education at post-graduate level today, most likely it is not going to happen below ₹40 lakh,” he said.

Click here for enlarge

How do you work towards saving that amount? Prakash Praharaj, founder, Max Secure Financial Planners, said that the future cost of a particular course needs to be calculated taking into account at least 10% annual inflation. “Then calculate the current assets and investments accumulated for these goals. Then the remaining gap for the aimed amount is to be filled through monthly SIPs over the years,” he said.

Starting an SIP of ₹5,000-7,000 in an equity fund for 15 years and increasing it by 10-20% each year could help. However, Sadagopan said, given the fact that there are so many ongoing expenses these days, including other loans, it becomes difficult for parents to put aside a huge amount for the child’s post-graduation alone.

Consider taking loan

Even if you have been working on creating a higher education corpus, you need to consider taking an education loan. At present, the total expenses for higher education abroad could be in the range of ₹1 crore per child, Sadagopan said.

“A realistic thing that parents need to realise is that the child’s higher education is not their only goal. Retirement is also an important goal and they need to be aware of the fact that you can get a loan for all other requirements but not for retirement,” he said.

Own funds versus loan

But if someone has already accumulated the required amount, why should another repayment burden be taken on? The answer lies in two things, Praharaj said. “A cost benefit analysis suggests that taking an education loan and keeping the accumulated amount invested works in your favour. Moreover, it also helps in developing a sense of responsibility in the student. The realisation that a repayment has to be done by them keeps them focussed,” he said.

The math of keeping your accumulated savings invested and taking an education loan instead suggests that taking a loan results in significant benefits. For instance, if ₹1 crore is kept invested and an education loan for the same amount is taken, at the end of nine years, including the repayment holiday on the education loan, the net benefit could be around ₹87 lakh (see graph).

This includes the tax saved on repayment of loan. Borrowers of education loans can claim deduction on the interest paid, though not on the principal amount. Also, unlike in home loans, there is no limit to the amount that can be claimed as deduction.

Sadagopan said it is better that the parents keep the money with themselves and let the child take the loan. “In future if the child is struggling to find a job and pay back, you can step in to help at that point,” he said.

[“Source-livemint”]