Common entrance test for central varsities: plan, criticism

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What is the News?

University Grants Commission (UGC) has written to central universities to take appropriate measures for conducting the Central Universities Common Entrance Test (CUCET) for admission in undergraduate and postgraduate courses from the 2022-23 academic session.

What is the Central Universities Common Entrance Test (CUCET)?

CUCET was launched in the year 2010 to conduct Common Entrance Test for Central Universities.

Currently, 12 central universities hold CUCET with the assistance of the National Testing Agency(NTA).

What are the changes that will be made now?

From the 2022-23 academic session, a common entrance test is likely to be conducted by the National Testing Agency(NTA) across all central universities in India for admissions to undergraduate and postgraduate courses. 

This marks a departure from the current predominant pattern of screening based on class 12 marks.

The test will cover sciences, humanities, languages, arts, and vocational subjects, and is likely to be held at least twice every year.

However, the test does not have under its ambit engineering and medical courses that are offered by some of the central universities.

What is the rationale behind a Common Entrance Test?

The National Education Policy,2020 envisages that a common entrance will test the conceptual understanding and ability to apply knowledge, and will aim to eliminate the need for taking coaching for these exams.

Moreover, this decision of a common entrance test for all universities comes at a time when unrealistic cutoffs for admission to premier institutions like Delhi University have underlined the need for alternatives. The UGC hopes that CUCET will create a level playing field.

What is the criticism against this decision?

Common entrance tests will not be an improvement to unrealistic cutoffs. This is because children come from very different socio-economic backgrounds and to expect them to sit together and tackle a centrally-set paper will not be fair. 

Source: This post is based on the article Common entrance test for central varsities: plan, criticismpublished in Indian Express on 1st December 2021.

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