The Executive Committee (EC) of the Council of Architecture (CoA) has approved new regulations making a single national entrance test mandatory for admission to all architecture institutions.
The decision, taken at a meeting on May 30, seems to have sparked a debate within the CoA, with two Council members questioning the EC’s authority to take such decisions.
On June 9, CoA Registrar R K Oberoi circulated draft regulations titled ‘Council of Architecture National Architecture Entrance Examination Regulations 2018’ for the approval of Council members. Oberoi’s letter states that the regulations were approved by the EC as a measure to “improvise standards of architectural education”.
The draft regulations make a national-level exam, conducted by an agency or CoA, mandatory for admission to all undergraduate architectural programmes in all government and private institutions from the 2018-19 session.
Currently, most institutions offering architecture programmes admit students through the NATA score. NATA or National Aptitude Test in Architecture was conducted by CoA multiple times in a year. However, from this year, NATA was made a single-day test to be taken in offline mode.
A R Ramanathan, AICTE’s nominee to the CoA, and Habeeb Khan, the Maharashtra government’s nominee, replied to Oberoi’s letter on Thursday objecting to the EC’s decision on the entrance test without consulting Council members. The EC is a seven-member body within the Council that is suppose to execute decisions of the Council.
“The decision to move away from an Aptitude Test to an Entrance Examination is a major policy issue and the Executive Committee is not empowered to carry this out. The full Council is required to debate this issue and that too after taking into account the views of all the stakeholders,” Ramanthan’s letter states.
He further writes: “Even in the last Council Meeting this was pointed out. However, the CoA went ahead and carried out a revised single day “Entrance Examination” this year and the turmoil it has created is only increasing by the day. Colleges in Maharashtra have decided to take students based on their JEE scores as well. Punjab Technical University has directed colleges under it to conduct their own ‘Aptitude Tests’. The heads of Colleges of Architecture in Tamil Nadu are debating ways, outside of the Entrance Examination conducted by CoA to enrol students.”
Khan too recorded his dissent on similar grounds. “I also very strongly believe that entrance to architecture education should be an aptitude test and not a single day test based on the pattern of other examinations or entrace tests. We need to test the ability and aptitude of an aspirant and not asses his prowess of memory,” he wrote.
“That (Ramanathan’s letter) is an internal communication. I’m still to look at it. But let this (matter) take final shape only then one can comment on it,” Oberoi told The Indian Express. Ramanathan was not reachable for comment.
The Cabinet has approved the HRD Ministry’s proposal to withdraw the Architects (Amendment) Bill, 2010, from the Rajya Sabha. The Bill aims to give the Centre more control over the CoA. According to the HRD Ministry, the CoA, on several occasions, has interfered in architectural education beyond its mandate and encroached on the role of AICTE, which is expected to maintain standards of technical education, including architecture. The amendments were proposed curb CoA’s alleged transgressions. The Bill is being withdrawn citing a need for wider consultation and regulatory reforms being undertaken by the government.