Published: 26th March 2022
With UG admissions on the line, what do non-central universities make of the new CUET?
The chief concern, as of now, remains the delayed announcement for it to be adopted by private and state universities. Let's take a look at the other concerns
When the Delhi University made waves in the news during its admission cycle last year, with students from states like Kerala bagging a greater proportion of seats in the undergraduate programmes, the education community was awash with a new term of opposition: the "marks jihad". The clamour for equity in educational institutions gained a lot of traction and the announcement of the Central University Entrance Test (CUET) almost seemed like the UGC's reply to quell students' worries.
With the test slated to put an end to sky-high cutoffs based on Class XII scores, UGC Chairman M Jagadesh Kumar had said, "The announcement of the CUET is a student-friendly reform. The students who wanted to get admission to universities had to write various exams, whereas some universities took admissions on the basis of Class XII." On the face of it, it seems to be a welcome move even if students would now have to screen themselves through another exam.
So far, the test stands to be mandatorily adopted by only the central universities. The process of admissions to state, private and deemed-to-be universities is still up in the air. We asked a few institutes about their plans for the coming academic year and if they are willing to accommodate students based on CUET. Aman Mittal, Vice-President of Lovely Professional University, said, "The delayed timing of the announcement regarding CUET might concern students this year. If the intent of the government was to really unify admissions across the country, then the decision should have been taken a few months earlier. The timing does look a bit off-putting." He further added that for universities like LPU which have already begun their own admission process of entrance exams, it would be difficult to base entry on CUET this year.
Sticking to old ways
However, state universities like Calicut University in Kerala would continue with the old system of relying on index marking based on Class XII scores. "The discussion of whether to adopt the CUET is one that has not occured yet. As of now, there is no change from the already existing pattern of admission," informs M Nasser, Pro-Vice-Chancellor at Calicut University.
Even though the timing might have been delayed, the move has received appreciation from state-run varsities as well. Prof D Ravinder, Vice-Chancellor of Osmania University, says that since this is a policy matter, they haven't taken a decision on taking up CUET yet. But he calls the common entrance test a "wonderful idea". "Students can now apply for 24 universities without attempting multiple exams or paying money at multiple points. Moreover, their admission will be based on merit alone. It is a good idea," he affirms.
The final move would, however, rest on the state higher education boards. Registrar and Spokesperson of Andhra University Dr V Krishna Mohan says that whether to implement CUET is not a call that they can take. Exams for PG, UG and professional courses in all the 21 state universities in Andhra Pradesh are conducted by Andhra Pradesh State Council For Higher Education (APSCHE). "Only they will decide if they want to adopt it or not," he says.
The onus might then be on the state council for higher education but in Andhra Pradesh's case, adopting the CUET might have wider ramifications. Chairman of APSCHE Hemachandra Reddy opines that since central universities are more reputed with limited seats, a common entrance test is justified for them. "Right now, our GER (Gross Enrollment Ratio) is 35.2%, well ahead of the national average. But extending CUET to all state-run or affiliated UG institutions will have a negative impact on our GER. Because a few will qualify while the rest will be denied the opportunity," says the Chairman.
Meanwhile, the call from Central Universities so far has been a welcome sign for the UGC. Being a central university, the University of Hyderabad's (UoH) academic council has "strongly endorsed" the CUET, informs Vice-Chancellor Basuthkar Jagadeeshwar Rao and says that it makes a lot of sense for the state universities to take to it as well. He pointed to the matter of aligning with the mainstream saying, "State universities need to be competitive. Otherwise, sooner or later they will wither away. Especially with the National Education Policy 2020, wherein, students can pick up credits from anywhere. State universities have to join the mainstream."
While there is no doubt that the admissions to all central universities has been streamlined with the coming of the CUET, unification across all state and private universities remains a distant goal, one which would only gain momentum based on the success it has in the new academic year.