Published: 23rd July 2018
We are not forcing anyone to join our institute: Aakash Chaudhry responds to over-charging allegations
Aakash Chaudhry, CEO of Aakash Institute opens up about how NEET, JEE to be held twice a year will benefit the students
Over the years, Aakash Institute has emerged at the forefront as a one-stop solution in the field of Medical and Engineering entrance exam coaching. The results they have produced are unquestionable. And yet, there will always be criticism that they are over-charging and milking a system hell-bent on getting children into institutes of excellence. Responding to questions at a time when their website was hacked and in light of the MHRD's decision to conduct competitive exams twice a year, Aakash Chaudhry, CEO of Aakash Institute to talk about their journey, ups and downs and more. Excerpts:
NEET and JEE will be held twice a year from 2019.
For a typical medical and IIT entrance exam, a student generally takes a lot of time to prepare. Mostly, kids after 10th make a three-year plan. But all that hard work comes down to three hours that they have to spend while writing the exam. So having another three-hour opportunity will definitely benefit the student. So if they don't do well in their exam they will not have to worry that their hard work will go to waste. Students can now appear multiple times for the exam. Since it's going to be a computer-based test, it will lead to a fair practise and instances of cheating or cancellation of paper will come down to a certain level. All the issues with the offline paper can now be resolved. Moreover, the results, performance and analysis can be made available to students far more quickly.
Do you think it's a good move by the government?
Yes, I do. But obviously, it has come in a bit late because the students who were preparing to write the exam next May, will now have to write it in January or February and this will give them less time to prepare. The current year will face a bit of heat to finish their syllabus on time but in the long-term students will prefer it because they will get more than one attempt to write the exam.
Your website was hacked last month because the hackers claimed that the institute charges an exorbitant fee. What is your response to that?
More than 40-50 lakh students write the exam every year. We can't cater to the need of each and every child. It is not in our hands and we do not force anyone to join our institute. It is like asking a doctor that why are you charging Rs 2000 for an OPD? There are a bunch of service providers in the market and if a child feels that it is accessible, then the students can avail the required services they want. I don't understand why somebody would do something like this. Someone hacking our website already has bad intent. So that tells me that the intent was not to point out the high fee issue, but obviously to malign our name. We have asked the cyber-security experts to do the detailed analysis of who has done this. We have also filed a complaint with the cyber crime cell and are trying hard to make the site secure.
We have asked the cybersecurity experts to do the detailed analysis of who has done this. We have also filed a complaint to the cyber crime cell and are trying hard to make the site secure
Aakash Chaudhry, CEO, Aakash Institute
But the high fee charge has been around for ages.
We give concessions on the basis of the test we conduct. A student can avail almost 100 per cent scholarship in almost all our exams. There is an additional discount for students coming from a background of armed forces. The problem is that people don't even look at these things that we do. They will just go by what someone else is saying. There are multiple opportunities for availing scholarships and thousands of students avail that.
Can you tell me about the origin of Aakash Institute? How and when did you start?
The company was started back in 1988. The company started by training students for medical entrance exams. Aakash Institute has been producing great results since 1988 for medical exams. Then in 2007-08, we started teaching JEE courses. In 2009-10 we started teaching for the Foundation Programmes as well. These are the three areas of work that we prepare students for — medical, engineering and other junior level competitive exams.
How do you manage the success rate that you boast of?
When we started off, we had a bunch of students who were keen to train with us. For the first set of batches, my father and the whole team worked very hard. And they ensured that for an average student, the concepts were clear and they were able to crack the exam. Slowly, as the word spread that there is good coaching available here, every year the quality of students joining the Institute started improving and the students approaching us also started improving. Over the years it has become a hallmark for medical exam coaching. When good quality students join our institute it ultimately leads to better results.