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50 Indians apply for every top university place

11 april 2011, 18:09
Nearly 500,000 Indian students battled for just 10,000 places at the country's elite universities over the weekend, data showed Monday, underlining the ferocious competition in further education, AFP reports.

The figures amounted to almost 50 students completing entrance exams for every place offered at the Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) and their partner institutes.

Exam organisers IIT Kanpur said 485,262 students had registered.

The IIT institutes are India's top universities, which began in 1950 to offer high quality degrees in mostly science and engineering.

IIT alumni include top business and political figures, including N.R. Narayana Murthy, co-founder of outsourcing giant Infosys, and Vinod Khosla, founding CEO of software firm Sun Microsystems.

The entrance exams are among the world's most competitive. The acceptance rate of about 2.0 percent compares with a 7.0-8.0 percent at America's elite Ivy League universities, according to their application figures.

According to the government, India will need up to 1,000 new universities by 2020 if the number of students going into higher education is to rise from the current 12 percent to its 30 percent target.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's government proposed a draft law last year to allow foreign universities to set up branches in India as part of a plan to open up the country's education system.

The law is awaiting approval in the Indian parliament.

Nearly one in three of India's 1.21 billion people is under 14, and Singh has said high educational standards are crucial if rapid economic development is to continue.

The importance of education in Indian sees children put under constant pressure to attain good marks in exams to earn a prized place at overstretched universities.

The IIT entrance exam results will be declared on 25 May 2011.

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