Published: 16th August 2022
This year's issues with CUET will not impact plans for merger with NEET, JEE, assures UGC Chairman
The UGC's stance is that one single exam will save students the burden of writing multiple tests in the same subjects
The announcement by University Grants Commission Chairman, M Jagadesh Kumar, that a merger of the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET), the Joint Entrance Exam (JEE) and the Common Universities Entrance Test (CUET) was being considered has sent shockwaves through the student and educator communities.
While some welcomed the proposal, upon the same reasoning stated by the UGC Chairman that a single exam will help students by preventing them from having to write multiple exams, its critics have banked on the recent grave issues that have plagued these three exams and their conduct this year. All three exams are conducted by the National Testing Agency. This year, the UGC made the CUET mandatory for admission into undergraduate courses in central universities and more than 14 lakh students signed up to write the exam, which has been mired in controversy due to technical and administrative shortcomings of the NTA.
The UGC Chairman, in an interview with PTI, said that these technical glitches in the "initial phases" of CUET UG were "lessons" and not "setbacks". In an attempt to assure the public, he said that the issues will be ironed out in the near future.
Most importantly, the Chairman added that the shortfalls of this year's CUET will "in no way" deter the UGC's plans of "scaling up or expansion" for crucial exams. Administrative and technical issues at the CUET included students sometimes being informed about the cancellation of their exam the night before or being turned away last minute from the exam centre, reported PTI. Kumar has also stated that there were reports of "sabotage" at some centres, which had forced the exams to be cancelled.
He clarified that the common entrance test, which will be conducted in place of JEE and NEET, was "as per the NEP" and will reduce students' burden of appearing in multiple entrances. Kumar added that there was no hurry to implement the common entrance exam and extensive preparations will have to be undertaken right away, if it is to be implemented next year.
Calling it a massive exercise, Kumar told PTI that an expert committee will be set up by the end of this month, which will study all important entrance exams being conducted in the country and abroad. He said that the committee also needed to address the difficulty level in the syllabi, as each discipline "has its own peculiarities". In an interview with the Times of India, Kumar said that the single test made sense since students wrote similar subjects across the exams, including Math, Physics, Chemistry for Engineering (JEE), Biology, Physics, Chemistry for NEET and a selection of up to 10 subjects in CUET.
The fourth phase of CUET will begin on Wednesday, August 17.