Published: 20th October 2021
UGC NET 2021: Students confused, worried about future as exam dates postponed once more
The exam was again postponed from its scheduled date of October 17 and the National Testing Agency (NTA) has stated that new dates will be announced soon
The UGC NET exams have been postponed twice now. The December 2020 and June 2021 sessions were supposed to be jointly held from October 6 to 11 but were later postponed to October 17. Recently, the exam was again postponed and the National Testing Agency (NTA) has stated that new dates will be announced soon. However, the uncertainty surrounding the exam dates has left aspirants in limbo.
Dripta Sarangi, a Master's in Linguistics student from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) said she's unsure how she should proceed right now. "I was supposed to appear for the exams last year but couldn't do so because of the pandemic. Local trains were not operating and it wasn't possible to avail any other mode of transport to reach the exam centre from my residence in Hooghly district of West Bengal," says the 23-year-old.
Dripta is among several who have been affected by the uncertainty regarding the NET exam dates. "Rumours are rife that three cycles will now be combined when the exams are finally held. This has added to students' stress as the competition will become fiercer and already an entire year has been wasted. I am very excited to start my PhD but I'm unsure when I'll be able to, considering that NET is a necessity for most universities," she says. Dripta had qualified for the interview round at the University of Hyderabad but her application was rejected because she hadn't cleared NET.
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UGC NET is typically held twice a year — in June and December — to determine the eligibility for the post of assistant professor in various universities and also to award the Junior Research Fellowship (JRF) to research scholars. It sets the minimum standard for people seeking a career in teaching and research. Over 6 lakh candidates had appeared for the exam in 2019 while over 5 lakh candidates appeared for NET in 2020.
University of Calcutta graduate Shalinee Das also expressed a similar sentiment. "It's honestly frustrating because our future plans have had to be paused due to the postponement. Students who want a career in academics have to look for other jobs or remain unemployed during this period," says Shalinee. Many of her peers have opted for an alternative career path. "Most of them have chosen to pursue a BEd degree instead. Some have even started working to sustain themselves in the meantime," says the Master's in English graduate.
Shalinee says this uncertainty in the exam dates will eventually lead to a loss of great, young scholars from the Indian academic scene. "A lot of them are appearing for other competitive exams and some are even planning to study abroad. Ultimately, it's academia that will be suffering due to this uncertainty. They should just announce a date now and stick to it no matter what," adds Shalinee.