Hundreds of students, who were to appear for the Tamil Nadu Common Entrance Test (TANCET) on Saturday, are likely to miss it because they will be writing their college final examinations on the same day.

The new exam dates, announced by colleges on Wednesday when they commenced classes, are going to hinder their career plans, say MBA aspirants.

TANCET, which will be held on Saturday and Sunday, determines entry to MBA, MCA, ME, M. Tech and M. Arch courses in institutions across the State. There are nearly 150 MBA seats, 120 MCA and over 70 M.E. and M. Tech seats in Anna University alone, and a considerable number of seats in self-financed colleges as well.

Nearly 1, 10,000 students took the exam last year, and the number has been increasing by 10-12 per cent every year, TANCET officials said.

Many autonomous arts and sciences colleges released their new schedule of exam dates on Wednesday morning, and most have a paper on Saturday. “Both my college exam and the test are in the morning. I can’t forego my degree paper but if I miss TANCET, I will not know what to do after I get my degree,” said Maheshwari Vijayan, a BBA student of an autonomous arts college.

“I had pinned all my hopes on TANCET. It is not easy getting through competitive examination such as CAT, which are dominated by engineering students,” she added.

Many students like Maheshwari have been preparing for MBA entrance exams for more than a year, and have spent at least Rs. 50,000 on training programmes. “Over the last three months, I have focused entirely on TANCET to get an MCA seat. Nowadays, a BCA degree alone does not help in getting a job,” said N. Manivagam, a BCA student.

Students and parents are aghast that colleges affiliated to a State university can conduct their exams on the same day as the exam of another university run by the State. “Most BBA and BCA students would appear for TANCET to get an MBA or MCA seat in a college. How can the college not consult its own students before deciding on exam dates?” asked R. Roselyn, a parent. She said that she, along with a few other parents, had sent a letter to officials of the college her daughter studies in, but they had told her they would not be able to change the date, as exams needed to be completed by April 15 as per the college calendar.

While the University of Madras has not yet announced new exam dates for government colleges, Anna University has already clarified that there will be no change in its exam schedule. There is, however, no question of postponing TANCET as all preparations for the test have already been made and the date was fixed a long time ago, an official said.

“Colleges need to know that this exam is crucial for all graduates who aspire to pursue an MBA or MCA in the State. Since we have aspirants from other States also, we cannot delay the test,” he added.

Autonomous colleges should not fix their exam dates without considering the dates of important tests conducted by State universities, said M. Ravichandran, vice president, All India Federation of University and College Teachers. “Autonomy is accountability but many autonomous colleges flout government orders blatantly. They should be sensitive to the anxieties of the parents and to the aspirants of their students,” he said.