UGCET: a game of permutations

Mothers of some students studying in II PUC and Class 12 CBSE/ICSE board formed a WhatsApp group a few months ago. The purpose was to share their thoughts and anxieties about their children’s dreams to pursue different undergraduate professional courses.

Their children are among the 1.77 lakh students in Karnataka who are writing the Undergraduate Common Entrance Test (UGCET) 2016, the gateway to admission for medical, dental, engineering, architecture, pharmacy, farm science, veterinary, Ayurveda, homeopathy, Unani, naturopathy and yoga courses in government colleges and for government quota seats in private colleges.

The issue that is bothering these students and their parents most is the seat allotment based on the UGCET ranking. “I have no clue how the seats are going to be allotted based on UGCET ranks. Whatever little I know is from people whose children have got admissions through UGCET last year,” said Ayesha Firdose, whose daughter Humera studies in Christ College.
UGCET: a game of permutations-1Officials of the Karnataka Examinations Authority (KEA) said that as many as 1,77,995 (1.77 lakh) students have registered for the UGCET to be held across Karnataka on May 4 and 5. Results (rank list) will be out on May 28 and seat matrix will be ready on June 14. Seat matrix gives the number of seats available in both government and private colleges as well as for general merit and other reservation categories. From June 15 to June 22, option entry round will be held.

It is in the option entry round that candidates have to enter online their options: the various courses they want in colleges of their choice in the order of their preference. This round is crucial as the candidates will have to factor in their interests, their conditions like whether they are ready to move out of their home towns and the fee issues – the fee is lower in government colleges than for government quota seats in private colleges – while entering their chosen options.

Things at this level are simple for a medical/dental seat aspirant as giving options is limited only to choosing colleges. But engineering seat aspirants will have to factor in the various streams/branches on offer and their preferences besides the colleges.

Mock seat allotment

After the option entry round, the admission process moves on to the next stage when mock seat allotment is done, and the final allotment will be on June 26. “The entire process of allotment of seats is done using sophisticated software which examines minutely the options given by the candidates for allotment of the best possible seat to the candidate as per his or her ranking and options given,” according to KEA Administration Officer SN Gangadharaiah.
“CET is a game of permutations”, says Srimati, a lecturer in Vijaya College. Asked to elaborate on what she means by “a game of permutations”, she said: “Before the option entry round begins, parents have to make a list of colleges suitable for their children based on the streams of engineering or any other course he/she wants to take up. Permutations is all about taking several factors into consideration while preparing the list. Some of those factors may be fee structure, location of college, its infrastructure, whether campus recruitment is held, and whether alumni of the college had got good placements.”

During the seat allotment, once again it is the rule of permutation that works. For instance, a medical aspirant with a CET rank 275 lists five colleges during the option entry round. By the time his or her turn comes, the seats in the first three colleges opted for may have been filled up. The candidate will then be allotted the college he has stated in his fourth option.

Suppose, an engineering aspirant lists six options (different courses and colleges) and if by the time his or her turn comes, the first three options are filled up, the candidate will be allotted the seat in the fourth option. Here’s another example: say for instance a candidate is willing to study either computer science and engineering or information science and engineering or mechanical engineering or civil engineering. These courses are on offer in 20 colleges. During the option entry round, the candidate has to enter his course options in the order of preference: CES, ISE, ME and CE. Same way he has to prioritise the 20 colleges: whichever is the best will come on top to be followed by the rest. During seat allotment, the KEA software will search the best seat for the candidate based on the rank, options given by the candidate and the seats available by the time his or her turn for allotment of seat comes. By the time his turn comes, if CES seats are filled in the first five colleges mentioned, it will ask the student whether he wants the seat in CES in the sixth college. Suppose CES seats are filled in all 20 colleges, then the next option for the candidate would be to choose ISE in the colleges where seats are vacant.

For more clarity, look at the cut-off ranks last year: for information science and engineering, the cut off rank in UVCE (UGCET) was 4792, while in RVCE it was 786 in UGCET. As against this, in Nitte Meenakshi Institute of Technology, it was 14898 (UGCET). This means students up to UGCET rank 4792 managed to get admitted to the course in UVCE, while those up to 786 got a seat in the particular stream in RVCE and those up to rank 14898 managed to get admission in the same stream in Nitte.

If you carefully look at the cut-off ranks, you will know that only those students who get top ranks in UGCET stand a chance to get a seat in government colleges or at least a government quota seat in a top-ranking private college. But those who get poor rankings have to make do with a seat in a private college.

Several imponderables

Getting a seat in one’s chosen stream and college through CET is subject to several imponderables. Admission to undergraduate professional courses is the first and most crucial stage in career choices that students make. Given the high aspiration levels, varied opportunities available and attendant uncertainties, many students end up taking more than one entrance exam.

“I don’t want to take chances when it comes to getting the seat in the course and stream I want. I am taking UGCET, JEE (Main) and AIPMT so that I will be able to decide whether to pursue BE, B.Tech or MBBS based on my ranking in these exams,” says Humera.

Like her, many others in the state will also write AIPMT (All India Pre-Medical and Pre-Dental Entrance Test, and JEE-Main (Joint Entrance Examination-Main) and COMEDKUGET (Consortium of Medical, Engineering and Dental Colleges of Karnataka Undergraduate Entrance Test).
While UGCET makes them eligible for government seats, COMEDKUGET is for admission to non-government quota seats in private colleges, JEE (Main) is for admission to NITs, IIITs, and centrally funded technical institutions across the country, and AIPMT is for admission to all-India quota in medical and dental colleges in the state and for admission in any of the centrally funded medical colleges/universities.

For better understanding, take the case of Karthik, CBSE Class 12 student of Jindal Vidya Mandir in Ballari. Through UGCET, he can get admission to BE/B.Tech/MBBS/BDS course in a government college, or he can get a government quota seat in a private college. Belonging to a middle-class family, he would prefer to get a seat in a government college or at least a government quota seat in a private college. The reason is obvious. In a government college, fee will be lower compared with that in a private college for a government quota seat.

Things though are not so uncertain while gaining admission to medical colleges. For instance, Bangalore Medical College and Research Centre (BMCRC) has 250 MBBS seats. While 85 per cent seats will go to toppers in UGCET, 15 per cent seats will be allotted to those who have good ranking in AIPMT. Fifty per cent seats are reserved for SC, ST and OBCs. So, besides a high rank either in UGCET or AIPMT, if a candidate belongs to the reserved category, he stands a better chance of landing up with a seat in BMCRC in comparison to those who are not from the reserved category.

Suppose a student does not get a seat in BMCRC, then he may want to try in another government college anywhere in the state. But if he does not get a seat in any government college, then his next option will be to choose a government quota seat in a private college either in the place of his residence or anywhere else in the state.

If you have read through this article until here, then you will agree that during this admission season, 1.77 lakh families in Karnataka are doing all kinds of permutations and are a worried lot.

Amidst all this worry and confusion, what happens if a student appears for CET and fails in PUC? It happened with Swetha Gowda (name changed) last year. She failed in mathematics in PUC. So she took up supplementary examination and managed to get passing marks. By then it was October and classes in most engineering colleges had commenced. But her parents, using their money and influence, got her admitted to a private engineering college.

Now you won’t dispute the fact that mothers mentioned earlier in the article had a valid reason to form a WhatsApp group to share their concerns. Parents and students should do some research and enter maximum number of options in the option entry round. That way you will definitely get the best seat available when your turn for allotment comes. The more the options the better the chances of landing up with a seat is the mantra.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of and does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.