Officials said that the left over 1,100 seats will now be transferred to the preparatory course. This course, which is like a feeder class, trains quota students for a year to equip them to qualify for the IITs . Students for the preparatory course are selected by reducing cut-offs even further. Under the OBC (other backward classes) reservation category there were 53 seats transferred to general category candidates. IIT's are implementing 18% quota before moving to the total 27% reservation. The IITs had made various concessions to ensure they could fill the SC/ST seats. They lowered entry levels for these categories and even went as low as 50% below the last general category student's marks to do justice to the quota. Even this did not help them get the required number of backward category students.
The IITs already have already set aside 15% seats for SCs and 7.5% slots for STs in each stream of engineering offered. A separate merit list with relaxed cut-offs is drawn up each year for selecting reserved category students. In fact late last year, the IIT directors decided to allow a 50% relaxation of scores for them from 2009, up from 40%.
Lets consider JEE 2008 cut off scores to get a clear picture of how low the scores are reduced just to enable the category students to gain admissions. If the last general category student admitted had an overall score of 172 out of 489, the aggregate cut-off for an SC/ST student was 104 (after a 40% relaxation). If the general category cut-off in 2009 remains the same, the bar for SC/ST candidates would be lowered even further to 86 (50% of 172) with similar such subject-wise cut off relaxations as well. How the elite I.I.T's will cope with such a broad range of students while striving to maintain its current standard is a question that remains to be answered.