Published: 15th August 2022
"Great move" and "huge task" — Students, teachers, educators opine about UGC's proposal to merge NEET, JEE and CUET
Though parents and teachers find this to be a good move and are hoping for positive results, students, on the other hand, express their apprehension regarding UGC's decision
A recent proposal from the University Grants Commission (UGC) seeks to merge all the entrance exams meant for higher studies, like NEET (National Eligibility cum Entrance Test), CUET (Common University Entrance Test) and JEE (Joint Entrance Examination) Main into a single exam. This has surely created a buzz. Tweets, videos and comments are pouring in from every corner of India on this topic, and everyone is curious to know if such a proposal will actually be implemented.
While people await further information from UGC, EdexLive reaches out to a few students, parents and educators to understand their opinion on this proposal. Though parents and teachers find this to be a good move and are hoping for positive results, students, on the other hand, express their apprehension regarding UGC's decision.
Good idea, but...
"The idea is good. But merging all the national-level exams into one appears to be a problematic move. I am doubtful about the proficiency of UGC and NTA (National Testing Agency, which conducts these exams) in conducting the exams, considering all the problems students faced in the recently held CUET and JEE Main. I'm not sure how this move will be implemented and how NTA will regulate the proposed exam," said Pradeep Rawat, President of Gurgaon Parents' Association.
"The thought and concept are welcome. It is a good move. The main intent behind this proposal, as I understand from different aspects, is to reduce the stress on tutorials. It will definitely reduce the number of exams for students as well. But it needs successful implementation. The syllabus also has to be considered. Every university follows a different syllabus. So, the question as to what will be the prescribed syllabus for the proposed exam remains. We have to wait for UGC to make a more informed decision and come up with the specific details," said Ashish Naredi, former Executive Member of Hyderabad Schools Parents' Association (HSPA).
There can be a positive spin
While parents are doubtful about the implementation, schools and colleges seem to be more positive. "It is a good move. All the exams have different perspectives and now that they will be merged into a single exam, the students can prepare for it once and get it over with. They do not have to write an exam each time separately. They can also focus on the syllabus given by UGC and do not have to prepare differently for every exam. Then based on their scores, they can opt for courses in colleges," said Professor Vijjulatha Manga, Principal, College for Women, Koti, Hyderabad.
"There are both positive and negative implications. The students won't be pressurised to appear for exams many times. They would also have to prepare once from a specific syllabus. But earlier, they had an option to appear for another exam if one did not go well. And the way students prepare is important. If they prepare well, they will definitely do well," said Shobha Raman, Principal, Vidya Mandir School, Chennai.
Work on what we have now
Meanwhile, students appear displeased with UGC's proposition. "Students are of the opinion that the exams should not be merged. Different skills are tested in different exams. NEET tests the decision-making ability while JEE tests problem-solving skills. The colleges for which these exams are conducted are also very different. So, merging will create a mess," said Aman Kadyan, a student who has appeared for NEET UG this year.
"Just because it is easy to conduct one exam instead of many is not a reason to merge them. It won't provide a fair chance to the students. NTA should be strict and well-organised. There were many problems in the recent exams. Instead of the merger, NTA should plan on bringing improvements in the existing exams," he added.
Dikshya Dibita Behera, another student who attempted her Class XII Board exams this year, said, "A merger would definitely be a huge change for everybody, and it will be hard to digest. Students would only have one chance and if it doesn't go well, a whole year's preparation would go waste. Moreover, each exam has a different level of questions. So, the exams should remain separate. And if the merger is indeed implemented, I don't think it is going to be well-accepted in the initial years."
EdexLive also reached out to a few other people who are directly involved with the field of education and students. President of AIJNSA (All India JEE NEET Student's Association), Himanshu Borah, said, "It is a revolutionary step. On paper, it is a good move. But merging the exams is a big task. And with NTA's recent failure (I would not call it anything else), the implementation is doubtful."
"I do not think such a move can be implemented from the next year. NTA says that it is building its own centre. But building a centre in just nine to ten months does not appear feasible. There is also the fact that from next year, JEE Main will be conducted by JAB (Joint Admission Board, the body of IITs which conduct the JEE Advanced exam), and not NTA. So, JAB has to acquiesce to the merger," he added.
"However, if the merger happens, NEET UG students will be hugely benefitted. One of the main reasons why NEET is conducted only once a year is because it is a written exam, and conducting it is difficult. But if the exams are merged, it will be held in CBT (Computer Based Test) mode, and there may be two attempts for the students, like for JEE Main," he said further.
Backing the merger
In the end, with Anup Raaj, Founder of 7Classes and former student of Super30, comes a slightly different take on the situation. Anup recommends the merger and does not see the technical snags faced by students this year as a future obstacle. "One nation one exam is a great move by the government. I see it competing with SAT in near future. Glitches can be taken care of by big tech firms, so I see it as a fixable problem. However, the number of test centres to conduct this exam may be a huge investment," he says.
All the same, Raaj is concerned that the merger will prove to be a huge challenge for students from rural backgrounds. "I see the disadvantages of the move primarily for students of small towns and villages as they don’t have access to infra and teachers for this change. This segment will suffer for the next five years. Conducting exams online puts students from small towns and village at a disadvantage because they mostly practice offline, due to a lack of proper facilities," he stated.
"Students of Tier I and II cities are not troubled as they either get good colleges or they join colleges in their hometown. Students of Tier III cities and villages are again going to react as they see this as their lifeline. If they get into IITs or NITs, they move to that town or they are forced to stay back by their families," speaking of the move, Raaj said further. "I recommend this merger positively but the transition should be smooth with more attempts for students," he concluded.