AICTE says CMAT not mandatory; faces legal notice from key b-school body

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CMAT 2012 advertisement by AICTE that appeared on December 3, 2011

While b-schools and MBA aspirants have a lot to complain over All India Council for Technical Education’s (AICTE) Common Management Admission Test (CMAT), a senior AICTE official told PaGaLGuY that the exam is not compulsory for its affiliated b-schools. This comes as a breather, as for months b-schools were unsure about accepting CMAT scores. However, the Educational Promotion Society for India (EPSI) that took AICTE to court in July 2011, has sent AICTE a legal notice over the exam.

According to Dr H Chaturvedi, alternate president of EPSI and director of Birla Institute of Management Technology (BIMTECH), the notice was sent on December 17. “We will go to the Supreme Court if AICTE does not respond within 10 days from the day of receiving the notice. Please read the line in the AICTE-CMAT advertisement: ‘Scores awarded will be used for allotment of seats in the AICTE-approved institutes/university departments.’ When a novice reads this line, what meaning will he/she derive? They will think that AICTE-approved institutions will only admit students through CMAT,” he said.

When contacted, an AICTE official said that his office had not received any legal notice. Without going through the notice we cannot make a comment.” He also said that nowhere in the advertisement has AICTE mentioned CMAT as compulsory. We did not even tell anyone that it is mandatory. It is an optional national-level examination and AICTE-affiliated institutions are free to consider other entrance exam scores apart from CMAT. On pointing out that AICTE was late in declaring the exam, the official responded: “How come it is late? The process has started from December 9 itself. Maharashtra Common Entrance Test (MH-CET) is in February and we are ahead of them. As far as ‘new’ is concerned, everything is once new in the industry.”

There are three points of objection raised by the legal notice. First, the advertisement as well as the press note (available on the AICTE website) for CMAT does not clearly mention whether CMAT is only substituting state-board examinations, and that five of the private exams (CAT, MAT, XAT, ATMA and JMET) are to continue as per the Supreme Courts order, thereby causing confusion among aspirants. (JMET, however, was scrapped post the court order).

“According to AICTE, scores of the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) will be accepted for admission to PGDM courses. This is in violation of the interim order by the Supreme Court, which permits only scores of the above-mentioned five exams and CMAT to be considered for admission,” says Chaturvedi. On December 14, a group of directors from the leading b-schools met AICTE chairman Dr SS Mantha in the office of HRD minister Kapil Sibal. I personally told V Uma Shankar, private secretary to Mr Sibal that what AICTE is doing isn’t right. If it has made a mistake, it should rectify it. According to the interim order of the Supreme Court dated July 26, 2011, AICTE has been allowed to conduct its test as an addition to the five national tests; CAT, XAT, MAT, ATMA, etc. At BIMTECH, we will continue to accept only CAT and XAT scores, Chaturvedi added.

The Andhra Pradesh government is also at loggerheads with AICTE over conducting CMAT-2012. It has been conducting the Integrated Common Entrance Test (ICET) for admission to MBA courses for the past several years. It feels that candidates from rural areas will find it difficult to prepare for the online test at such a short notice. “The state government is not going to go ahead with CMAT this year. We will stick to ICET only,” clarified an official from the Andhra Pradesh State Council for Higher Education.

Many b-schools say that they have not yet received any official communication from AICTE about CMAT. “EPSI has serious objections on CMAT advertisements. It reads as if CMAT is mandatory for all AICTE-approved b-schools,” says Chaturvedi. He feels that the advertisement is misleading and confusing. It is a Supreme Court issue now, AICTE should have been more careful about such sensitive matters, he added.

Students are unsure of taking CMAT as they do not know which b-schools will accept CMAT scores. According to Dr Arun Mohan Sherry, chairman (joint admission committee) of IMT group of institutions, “We have not received any official letter form AICTE about considering CMAT scores for the 2012-14 batch yet. So, we will consider only CAT, XAT and GMAT scores. If they make CMAT mandatory, then we will definitely consider it. It was announced so late, that everyone is confused about it.”

According to the advertisement, CMAT will help ‘institutions to select suitable students for admission in all management programmes approved by AICTE for the year 2012-2013’. These scores will not be valid for admissions into Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), where common admission test (CAT) scores will only be considered. When AICTE was asked about how the preparations were going on to ensure the exam is conducted smoothly, an official said, We have already done a pilot test. It had 100% accuracy and also got positive feedback from candidates. The second pilot test is due soon. We are expecting 100-plus students in each centres.

Dr Apoorva Palkar, chairperson of AIMS Test for Management Admissions (ATMA), president of Consortium of Management Education (COME) and director of Sinhgad Institute of Management and Computer Application (SIMCA) said, “I have seen the advertisement and I don’t see that the word mandatory was mentioned anywhere. Why EPSI has sent a legal notice to AICTE regarding the advertisement, it is the call of that association. I am taking the right legal opinion right now and we are still weighing our options. We are also considering MAH-CET scores for our institution. The state governs us and only the Director of Technical Education (DTE) would be able to comment on whether CMAT shall replace the state entrance exams or not. Plus, it is now up to the Apex court to decide what should be done.”

CMAT 2012 will be a three-hour online exam, which will be conducted over nine days in two shifts (9.30 am – 12.30 pm and 2.30 pm – 5.30 pm). The 100-marks test will be divided in four different components of 25 marks each, wherein one mark will be deducted for each incorrect Unlike CAT, we are not going to go through any elimination process. They want to eliminate the candidates, but as far as CMAT is concerned, we will find the potential of a prospective PGDBM candidate and rank them according to their merit and scores, said an AICTE official.