The State-level Eligibility Test (SLET) saw a significant boost in its pass percentage this year — 10.64 per cent, which is more than three times last year’s success rate.

Results of the test, which determines an individual’s eligibility for appointment as a teacher in colleges and universities, were declared on Saturday. Bharathiyar University acts as the nodal agency for the University Grants Commission (UGC) to conduct the SLET in Tamil Nadu. The test was held a few months ago.

However, candidates who took the test, known for its high failure rate, say the jump in pass percentage, has raised a new set of concerns.

“There is no ranking or listing made, and candidates only know they have cleared the test with certain marks. How would you know where you stand?” asked N. Sailapathy, a professor in a city university. He says it is also not clear what eligibility criteria were taken into consideration in marking.

“The online result page of every candidate says the candidate should come within the UGC’s qualifying criteria of 7 per cent in every subject. But there is no such explicit criterion stated by the UGC and even when it existed, it was struck down by the Kerala High Court, he said. 

There are other concerns too. To improve the quality of teachers in colleges and universities, the UGC recently made it mandatory that all teachers clear either the National Eligibility Test (NET) or the SLET or complete a Ph.D. A pass in NET/SLET also makes teachers eligible to draw UGC payscale salaries in colleges and universities.

But this is not being followed, teachers say. “At the school level, all those who pass the Teacher Eligibility Test have guaranteed employment. In the same way the government should ensure employment to those who pass NET/SET in government and government-aided colleges and universities. Otherwise, it leads to frustration among the aspirants, said S. Swaminathan, founder- secretary of the NET/SLET Association.

“Hundreds of candidates who have cleared the tests are still waiting for appointments because vacancies are being filled only by roping in those with PhDs. Many of them do not even fulfil criteria mandated by the UGC 2010 guidelines with regard to appropriate coursework and finishing their PhD in three years,” said T. Senthil Kumar, president of the association.

Bharathiyar University officials said of the 51,669 students who took the test this year, 5,495 have passed it. In 2011, nearly 41,164 candidates took the test. Even with this improvement over last year’s results, the need for qualified teachers still remains to be fulfilled in several colleges, candidates said.