One Nation One Test, UGC to Merge JEE, NEET, CUET: There are plans to merge the national level engineering and medical entrances with the Common University Entrance Test (CUET-UG) from the next academic year, with the University Grants Commission (UGC) set to form a committee of experts to explore ways to do it.
UGC chairperson M Jagadesh Kumar said Friday that bringing JEE (Main) and NEET under the larger umbrella of CUET will reduce the burden on students, adding that the idea is in tune with the National Education Policy, 2020. JEE (Main) is the gateway examination for admission to premier engineering institutes in the country and NEET is the entrance test for all undergraduate medical programmes.
The CUET-UG, which is currently underway, is likely to be held at least twice a year from 2023-24, Kumar added, pointing out the common entrance should eventually be designed to eliminate the need to appear in multiple entrances.
“After the introduction of CUET, we now have three major entrance examinations in the country — NEET, JEE and CUET — and most students take at least two of these examinations, and many may even write all three. In NEET, you have Biology, Physics and Chemistry, and in JEE you have Maths, Physics and Chemistry. So, two subjects are anyway common there and the same subjects are also used in CUET for admission in various universities. So, why should we subject the students to multiple entrance examinations,” he told indianexpress.com.
When will the exams be merged?
The UGC chief has clarified that the idea has not been finalised yet, and he wants to ensure that the National Testing Agency (NTA) and all concerned stakeholders are well-prepared before the new common entrance test is launched for students. First, the UGC will form an expert committee that will examine the existing entrance examination processes.
“They will also look at the possibility of an integrated, one single CUET and come up with recommendations. Then, these recommendations will be put up for stakeholders’ feedback, and based on the feedback the recommendation will be finalised,” Kumar explained.
“When you look at the time frame, we have just started this discussion and even if you want to hold it next year, there is one year’s time, and it will also mentally prepare students and other stakeholders that there is such a possibility and nothing will come as a surprise,” the UGC Chief said.
Kumar also added that the CUET exam may be conducted more than once from next year. “Let’s have one common entrance examination maybe in the coming year or next year, but conduct it multiple times in a year, maybe twice in a year so that students will have an opportunity to write it a second time and get admission in disciplines of their choice.” he explained.
This, the UGC chairman said, will give aspirants multiple chances to appear for the entrance exam and not miss any opportunities as the UGC and NTA have not set any limit on the number of attempts.
Syllabus for combined entrance test
The new and redefined CUET-UG will also follow the NCERT syllabus and the NTA will be instructed to strictly adhere to the class 12 syllabus for all disciplines, including the subjects related to JEE and NEET. This, Kumar said, will help students score better and take on less pressure.
Pointing out that the coaching culture has been there for decades in our country, especially due to NEET and JEE, Kumar said that “as long as we make sure that we stick to the syllabus that the students have studied, over a period of time students will come to know that if they can study well for their board examinations and focus on becoming a good learner, then that should help them in doing well in CUET.”
Controversy over poor conduct of CUET
The NTA has been facing the heat for not being able to conduct the CUET-UG 2022 phase two exam properly at several exam centres due to technical snags. Students are now worried that combining these three big entrance exams into one will create more pressure on the NTA which may backfire.
However, the UGC chairman said that the NTA has learnt from the August 4 episode and has since rectified its errors at any and every exam centre. In addition to this, the NTA will also now set up specific exam centres across the country which will be well equipped with the computers and other requirements, and will be managed by the NTA too. These NTA exam centres will be used specifically for such exams, along with other established centres.
“These centres can be later used as training centres, when the NTA is not conducting any exam in them and utilise the space,” he said.