What’s in the news?
- The University Grants Commission (UGC) has made it mandatory for all 45 Central universities to admit students to undergraduate programmes from 2022-23 based on scores obtained in the Common University Entrance Test (CUET) conducted by the National Testing Agency (NTA).
What is the CUET and who will use it?
- The CUET is a computer-based test that will be conducted by the NTA in the first week of July based on the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) syllabus for Class 12.
- All admissions into undergraduate courses at Central universities funded by UGC will mandatorily be based on CUET scores from 2022-23, replacing institution-specific entrance examinations or the ranking policy using Class 12 scores for admission.
- Other universities — whether State-owned, private or deemed — are also free to use CUET scores for their own admissions as well. Technical courses already using the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) are exempt, but skill-based professional courses like Music, Art, Theatre and Fine Arts can use a combination of the CUET score along with an interview or practical test.
- CUET scores will be needed for admission to general category as well as reserved seats, but each university’s reservation policy or seat quota for local students will not be changed. Class 12 board examination scores can still be used as a minimum qualifying mark, depending on the policies of individual universities.
What is the need for a common entrance test?
- The National Education Policy, 2020 proposed a common university entrance test as a way of ensuring uniform quality while reducing the cost and efforts of all stakeholders.
- CUET would provide an equal opportunity to students from across the country that seek admission from different boards, especially those from remote and rural areas. Since students will not have to sit for multiple entrance examinations, it will also cut their financial costs.
Why are some people opposed to CUET?
- One of the major complaints about mass entrance examinations such as JEE or NEET is that they spur a large-scale coaching industry. They argue that admission through CUET will make the terrain even more unequal. Such a filter will result in an additional expenditure of parents and students towards coaching and therefore, marginalise those coming from disadvantageous backgrounds.
- They pointed to the Madras High Court’s recent observations that NEET has only benefited students who spend lakhs of rupees on coaching classes, putting rural students at a disadvantage. They also warned that CUET would curb the autonomy and unique characteristics of universities.
- The other worry is CUET’s impact on school education. Critics argue that, already, entrance tests like JEE and NEET encourage students to enrol in coaching centres and totally disregard their Class 11 and 12 classes. CUET’s impact will be similar, on a much vaster scale.