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IIM Calcutta admissions goof up

After issuing admission offers to 700 students on Friday 10th April, the next morning IIM Calcutta pruned its admission list by 100 leaving these students in the lurch. They have been put ‘on hold’ indefinitely.

This is the first time an IIM has made such an error and it is causing quite a bit of heartburn among students. This morning The Telegraph reported:

Euphoria turned into despair for MBA aspirant Vijay Joshi (name changed) in the span of 12 hours this weekend, with IIM Calcutta suddenly pruning a list of 700 selected students by almost 100.

Vijay, a Mumbai boy, sensed something was amiss the moment he heard about the “first list” being revised. He went online immediately to check the IIM Calcutta website, only to discover that he was among the unlucky few whose selection had been put “on

The same website had flashed the message “Congratulations, you have been selected” across the 22-year-old’s computer screen when he keyed in his registration number and date of birth less than 12 hours earlier on Friday.

Not getting in is sad.
Getting in and then being put to pasture is worse.

But if it is a genuine mistake, it’s better corrected in the first 24 hours – isn’t it?

Saibal Chattopadhyay, the dean of programme initiatives on the Joka campus, is quoted in The Telegraph as follows:

“The original list was drawn up taking into account the likelihood of some students with multiple offers from IIMs opting out, apart from the usual dropouts. But as it turned out, there are very few students with multiple offers this time and the dropout rate could be lower than previous years. We were compelled to revise the list,” he said.

This could well be true. Each IIM has created its a very distinct criteria in terms of the importance accorded to CAT score, work experience and past academics.

Question 1: Can all IIMs please share information pertaining to overlap prior to releasing final offers and avoid such errors?

IIM Calcutta has increased seats in the PGDM program from 318 to 408 this year. But 700 admit letter for 408 seats seems excessive in any case.

Question 2: Wouldn’t it be safer to issue only 10 or 20% more offer letters than the number of seats and then take in people on the waiting list? Well, each institute has its own estimation of what is ‘safe’ and therein lies the challenge.

An unconfirmed estimate posted on a pagalguy discussion thread estimates last year’s wait list scenario as such:

1. IIM-A – 0 buffer calls….waitlist moved till 45.
Total no dropping out=45
2. IIM-B – about 50 buffer calls….waitlist moved till 47.
Total no dropping out=97
3. IIM-C – Secretive abt no of buffer calls. But there are abt a 100 ppl in IIM-A who also had C converts, and guess atleast 25 odd in B had C also….waitlist of 20 cleared out. Total no dropping out= 145+

Given that this year the employment scene for freshers is bleak, one would expect more students to accept the admission offered at any IIM. Thus even 600 calls for 408 seats seems to be on the higher side.

The 100 ‘on hold’ students will apparently be given preference over ‘wait listed’ candidates. Which means wait list waalon ko to koi chance hi nahin hai.

12 hours is a pretty short period of time and I hope these 100 ‘on hold’ candidates were too busy celebrating to dash off a ‘sorry I cannot join you’ letter to any other bschools they were accepted by! You know, sometimes it does pay to be a late-lateef.

And if it’s any consolation at all, last year Kelloggs had made a similar mistake with 50 odd students. (Thank you Ankit for this link)

In that case ‘the school’s automated mail-merge process mistakenly attached acceptance letters to candidates who had been declined’.

Rashmi Bansal

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