First, the mandatory disclosure. I am a member of their Academic Senate. However, I have attended my first meeting only recently, and share no credit for this innovation.
First a bit about Indrapastha Institute of Information Technology (IIIT) Delhi. It is an Institute solely focused on IT education and research, set up in 2008 by Delhi Government, and is a university empowered to give its own degrees. Within three years of its existence, it has built an awesome reputation. Excellent faculty. A visionary Director.
The process for under-graduate admission starts with the question: What type of students do we want. A question that is rarely asked by universities and colleges in India. As a first cut solution, one will argue that we want students who know their science well, and have an aptitude for engineering or more specifically IT. Aptitude! They already are different from everybody else. But they go much beyond this initial answer.
Should we admit students who have reasonable aptitude and are excellent in science. Or should we admit students who are reasonably good in science, and have excellent aptitude. Most institutes would vote for the former (that is, if they at all think about it this way). It is then perhaps assumed that 60% (or whatever) marks in 12th class is sufficient indication of reasonable aptitude. So they will have a test based on Physics, Chemistry and Maths, and rank applicants based on score in the test. But IIIT Delhi is different. They think aptitude is lot more important. So they will consider 80% marks in 12th as sufficient academic preparation, and take an entrance test which tests aptitude. The ranking is based exclusively on this aptitude test. (As an aside, this is the method for selecting students from within Delhi. They do admit some non-Delhi students which is done through AIEEE. They do not ask them to come to Delhi to give the aptitude test.)
The story does not end here. The next question they ask is whether it is really important for someone studying IT to know a lot of Physics, Maths, and Chemistry at the 12th class level. And their answer is that just like engineering colleges are starting to offer basic biology related courses in their curriculum, the requirement of even Physics and Chemistry knowledge is to a minimal level, and if needed, that knowledge can be imparted in the Institute. So, the eligibility is just Mathematics with any other 4 subjects in 12th class. So, they are creating an opportunity for students who have done Maths, Commerce, Economics, etc., in the 12th class, to get into a BTech (IT) Program. It is interesting and I certainly admire the courage of IIIT to conduct this experiment. (I am told that not many people from non-science streams applied this year. Perhaps the message did not go across. Hopefully, more students will take advantage of this from next year onwards.)
The minimum eligibility is 80% marks in Maths, and 80% marks overall in 5 subjects in 12th class. They say that the cut-off is on the higher side since they do not want a very large number of students to apply for a small number of seats. And you fill up their form after the 12th class result is out. They are not in the business of creating a huge profit through their admission process. Their cut-off is high enough that students who only did coaching by ignoring their 12th class completely are less likely to be eligible. In their own little way, they are encouraging school education in Delhi, without burdening the kids with the pressure to get close to 100% as some of the colleges in Delhi University do.
And finally, they seem to have done their home work well in terms of how to judge aptitude for IT. So the exam consists of five areas: Comprehension, Data Interpretation, Mathematical Ability, Analytical Ability, and Decision Making.
The entire process is online. One fills in form, takes the print out of the admit card, and just reaches the examination center. From the last date of filling up the form to the announcement of results, it takes only 18 days. (There is no typo. It is not 18 weeks.)
The admission process and many other innovations being carried out at IIIT confirm my belief that leadership is extremely important for the success of an institute, even more so for a new institute.