It is just not students but also coaching institutes that are in the race to grab top positions in entrance examinations. As soon as the NEET and JEE results released, a number of them put out full-page advertisements claiming credit for the success stories. This year, too, six different coaching institutes claim to have tutored undergraduate medical entrance examination topper Soyeb Aftab. At the same time, premier coaching institutes — Allen and FIITJEE — have claimed JEE Advanced AIR 3 Vaibhav Raj to be their student.
This ‘trend’ among coaching institutes is nearly a decade-old now, and has been increasing every year, what with the sector becoming a billion-dollar business now. The major revenue source for these institutes is the preparatory courses for entrance, competitive exam including JEE, NEET, UPSC and others.
According to the data by Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry (ASSOCHAM), the coaching institutes generate a yearly revenue of more than Rs 1 lakh crore and is growing at over 35 per cent per year.
In order to to catch students and their parents’ attention, institutes claim to have tutored successful students even though the toppers may have just registered for additional coaching material or mock tests.
Vaibhav who explained why there is such confusion. “I left FIITJEE after class 10 (2018) and have no relation with that institute since then. Thereafter, I enrolled in Allen and did not take preparation material from any other institute. I am disheartened to see that my name is being used for them for promotions. I request them not to further use my name for their advertisement.” FIITJEE South Kolkata declined to comment on the matter.
— ALLEN Career Institute (@ALLENkota) October 18, 2020
A similar ‘trend’ was witnessed after the medical entrance exam (NEET 2020) result was released. All India rank 1 Soyeb Aftab was claimed by multiple institutes as their student. While Soyeb stated that he was enrolled in the regular classes at Kota-based Allen, he said he also accepted the offer for distance learning programmes (DLP) by various institutes — Aakash, Pathfinder, Sri Chaitanya, Gravity, ETOOS India. “After I secured rank 14 in Aakash National Talent Hunt Exam (ANTHE) in 2019, the institute offered me the DLP programme. Other institutes also enrolled me on the basis of my merit. The access to online mock test series by these institutes helped me boost my preparation.”
Aakash institute, national academic director (medical) Anurag Tiwari, said, “Soyeb was registered for regular classes through the scholarship programme on the basis of his performance in ANTHE, but was shifted to distance learning programme (DLP) as he was unable to attend classes.”
Similarly, Pathfinder institute clarified that Soyeb was enrolled in the non-classroom programme (NCRP) in April, and was offered online mock test series, model answers, and study materials. Sri Chaitanya institute also said Soyeb enrolled in the open category, however, they did not provide the exact date/ year of his enrollment.
Soyeb also received a scholarship amount of Rs 34,400 from Unacademy after securing AIR 2 in their scholarship test- ‘Unacademy Prodigy’, but was not enrolled in any of their programme.
Krishna Chaitanya Kasula, secretary, Coaching Federation of India (CFI), terms this practice on the part of coaching institutes as unethical. But he clarified that this is not illegal because when ]students enroll for a four-year programme, the “institute has taught them for at least two years, thereby creating a strong foundation for entrance preparation”.
Kasula also termed the distance learning programme as a “wrong trade”. “Many institutes with their strong network get access to the performance of bright students before the entrance exams. The institutes then approach the aspirants to offer free distance learning programme. They lure them to get enrolled so that if students secure top positions, their photos can be used for publicity.”
The distance learning programme, according to the secretary, is nothing but a “gimmick”, as these courses are already available online.
Further, he said such practices are quite common in Kota, and other coaching hubs. “Once the entrance exams are over and the answer keys are released, they predict the toppers and approach them with lucrative scholarship offers. In many cases, students accept it as this helps in funding their higher education or refund their coaching fees.”
To check this malpractice, the CFI is planning certain regulations to make the coaching industry run a “fair business”, and the institutes need to be affiliated under it.