Applications for the common admission test (CAT) of the coveted Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) and 150 other B-schools have come down by 12% over last year, its first annual dip in over a decade, as aspirants wait for the economy to pick up pace before they pursue a management course. The new online system of applications also ensured that only those who meet the basic eligibility criteria get to register, according to IIMs' CAT committee, which said no application was rejected this year, another first in CAT history. Last year, 2.76 lakh applications were registered, but only 2.46 lakh finally took the test. This year, the number of applications itself has dipped to 2.41 lakh. CAT 2009 convenor and IIM-A faculty member Satish Deodhar said many potential candidates may have been dissuaded by the impact of the global economic slowdown on salaries and employment.
CAT registrations have been going up annually by double digits since 1998, and the past three years had seen a growth rate of 20-25%. There has also been an increase in the number of candidates with work experience this year, with 71% of all candidates claiming work experience of more than six months. Most students who registered have a technical background, and female candidates constitute 26% of the total pool. The numbers were officially released by the IIMs, which is holding the computerised test with support from Prometric, a testing and assessment services providing firm. Axis Bank, authorised for selling the CAT 2009 registration voucher, sold 2,46,912 forms. Online registration for CAT had gone through a rough phase when it opened on September 9, with candidates complaining of technical glitches.