NTA may conduct common entrance test for 45 Central universities

Students taking up the Central Universities Common Entrance Test at the Central University Tamil Nadu, Tiruvarur. File

Students taking up the Central Universities Common Entrance Test at the Central University Tamil Nadu, Tiruvarur. File

With major school boards cancelling their Class 12 examinations , students looking to apply for college are now waiting for clarity regarding a new avatar of an old admission method — the Central Universities Common Entrance Test (CUCET). In March, about 45 Central universities were told that the National Testing Agency would conduct the CUCET this year for all aspiring students, but the pandemic may have cast a pall of uncertainty over those plans.

When the CUCET began in 2010, it was used for admission to 1,500 seats in seven new Central universities. By 2020, when it was conducted by the Central University of Rajasthan, the entrance test had expanded to cover 14 new Central universities and four State universities. The multiple choice question papers cover language, general awareness, mathematical aptitude and analytical skills, as well as domain knowledge in the candidate’s chosen subjects.

With the National Education Policy recommending a common entrance test for all undergraduate admissions, a committee was formed in December 2020 to examine the possibility of expanding the CUCET to cover at least all Central universities. Its report is being examined by the Education Ministry. In March 2021, the Vice-Chancellors and controllers of examinations of the Central universities were invited to a consultation on the issue.

“We were told that the NTA would take over the conduct of the exam, and it would be used for all admissions, with separate tests for UG and PG courses. We were asked to give our input on the specific subjects and types of testing needed. About 45 universities consented,” said the admissions director of one of the newer universities in southern India, who did not want to be named. He claimed that the older, more prestigious universities such as the Jawaharlal Nehru University, the Delhi University (DU), Jadavpur and Shantiniketan were not so keen on a common entrance test, as they have their own unique admission processes.

However, the controller of examinations from one of the older institutions said all Central universities were on board. “All the controllers were unanimous that apart from a common entrance test, we should have a common counselling process as well, as is done for [engineering admissions via] JEE,” he said. Currently, the CUCET has a common merit list, but leaves each university to do its own counselling. “It will reduce stress on students and institutions, as independently conducting exams in this pandemic is very challenging,” he said, noting that admissions were not completed till December last year.

DU Vice-Chancellor P.C. Joshi told The Hindu on Tuesday that if the Education Ministry approves the use of the CUCET, that could be implemented, adding that the DU would not compromise on merit. The DU has previously considered the option of splitting weightage between Class 12 marks and the CUCET scores for its admissions list. The JNU has said it is willing to consider the CUCET for its undergraduate admissions if directed to do so by the government.

“We have not heard anything from the Ministry after the March meeting, so we are still waiting. I don’t know if they will be able to hold the CUCET during the pandemic, as the CBSE exams were just cancelled for the same reason,” said the admissions director of an eastern India Central university.

Officials at the Education Ministry, NTA and UGC did not respond to queries regarding CUCET 2021.

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Printable version | Aug 4, 2022 3:29:12 pm |