Friday, June 14, 2013

Older central universities yet to warm up to common test

The efforts of Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) to introduce a common admission test for all 42 central universities in the country has not made much headway, particularly because the older and more well-known of these institutes have not taken to the idea. “There have been a few rounds of meetings, but we have failed to reach any consensus,” said Somnath Dasgupta, Vice-Chancellor of Assam University, in a telephone interview.

Although 10 of the new central universities are agreeable to the move, others including the older central universities have demurred, according to two ministry officials, because they that say in the absence of a concrete mechanism, changing to a new system will dilute their legacy and standards. Both officials declined to be named.

This may have put paid to the ministry’s plan of introducing the new entrance examination in the current academic season, they said. “It may look simple, but it’s really complex. The number of students is huge and there is no clear guideline on how to conduct it,” said Dasgupta. “I have discussed it with my colleagues in our campus, but they too are not very enthusiastic.”

The ministry says this common test will benefit students, who now have to apply separately to all central universities. Also, universities located outside major cities will get students from across India instead of from a particular region, said one of the ministry officials.

Dasgupta was not too sure about this. “As an older university in North-East India, we have to cater to the local population. One of the questions is, can we do that in the proposed system?” he asked. “I think the first point is to develop a mechanism — who will conduct it, who will evaluate, and who will prepare question papers. Before that, we can say it’s a project in the pipeline without any consensus.”

Unlike the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), which admit students based on common admission tests, the common examination for universities is more complex because of the number and variety of programmes on offer and the issue of integrating them in a test consisting of one or two papers, said the head of another central university, who spoke on condition that neither he nor his institution be named.

M.M. Salunkhe, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Rajasthan, which is coordinating the common entrance for the 10 new central universities this year, agreed with this view. Institutions such as Banaras Hindus University, Allahabad University or the University of Delhi have a huge number of programmes, and to streamline them will take time, Salunkhe said.

Surabhi Banerjee, Vice-Chancellor of the Central University of Orissa, said the new universities are expecting to get a better pool of students from the common test as awareness of the new universities are not high. Salunkhe said more than 40,000 students will write the common entrance examination in 2013 for entry into the 10 new central universities. The test will take place this weekend. Last year, seven new universities had conducted their selection together.

Source: Mint, June 14, 2013

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