ibnlive » India

Oct 16, 2013 at 08:53am IST

Slowdown makes students jittery, CAT applications at a 5-year low

New Delhi: The Common Admission Test (CAT) begins on Wednesday and will continue through the month. This year only 1.9 lakh students have registered to take the test, which is a 5-year low.

Chakra Joshi, a Bsc Computer Science student, was preparing for the CAT - a ticket to the prestigious IIMs. But in the backdrop of an economic slowdown and job scarcity, he has decided to delay his plans and sit for campus placements instead.

Chakra is not alone. The overall number of candidates taking the CAT has reduced to a five-year low this time. Only 1.94 lakh aspirants have registered for CAT 2013, which is a nearly 10 per cent drop from last year's 2.14 lakh applications.

This year, 58 applicants will fight it out for one seat at an IIM, compared to 68 for a seat in 2011 and 125 per seat in 2009. Increased fees and a slow job market, even for MBAs, seem to be the biggest reasons.

"Students don't want to take up high loans and not get a job where they might not get enough returns," said Ulhas Vairagkar, an expert.

A current paper on B-schools by industry body Assocham says only 10 per cent of India's MBA graduates are employable. The paper also revealed that recruitments at the campus have gone down by 40 per cent in the year 2012.

A weak economy has made working executives shy to give up their jobs to pursue an MBA. "Many of my working friends who were planning to take the CAT have decided to not leave their jobs for this," said Amita, an aspirant.

Factors like changes in the exam formats have also made applicants hesitant.

In the past five years alone, the number of B-schools in India has tripled. But given the economic scenario, candidates are now looking at the government sector as offers in B-schools seem to be drying up.