The ministry of education will also decide on the fate of the Central University Common Entrance Test (CUCET) after CBSE announces the assessment scheme for the class XII boards. Due to surge in Covid-19 cases in April, the April and May editions of JEE (Main) were postponed and registration of NEET-UG which were supposed to commence from May 1 was kept in abeyance. According to a senior education ministry official, “A review meeting next week will assess the situation. Given the present situation, the NEET-UG is likely to be postponed.” After the cancellation of the class XII exams, concerns are being raised by experts on expected disparities in school level evaluation across the country, as well as challenges that universities are likely to face in normalising the differences in results prepared by school boards.
According to educationist Meeta Sengupta, “Universities should not wholly depend on school marks. A test, viva or interview, asking for more information on the achievements of the student in the application and special points given for awards, abilities and overcoming difficulties can be included. For this year, colleges can also give only online admissions, to be converted to full admissions after a test when conditions improve and regular classes start or subject to students clearing their first semester.”
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Ahead of the second wave of the Covid-19, UGC submitted its report on CUCET to the MoE. However, according to a UGC source, “Whether or not CUCET will be implemented from the 2021-22 academic session, as intended earlier, will depend on what kind of assessment scheme CBSE will announce for the Class XII Board.”
Universities are fine with a delayed academic calendar if it means conducting entrance tests when the situation normalises rather than admitting on the basis of Class XII results.
M Jagadesh Kumar, vice-chancellor, JNU said: “The decision on Class XII exams is rational as safety of students is of paramount importance. In most higher educational institutes, admission into undergraduate programmes is through an entrance examination. We will conduct the entrance examination whenever it is safe and admission happens at a later date than usual, we will surely adjust our academic calendar to take care of the lost time without compromising the academic rigour. In HEIs where the undergraduate admission is based on 12th standard marks, the universities can devise appropriate procedures for admission which are fair and transparent.”
In agreement is Bidyut Chakrabarty, vice-chancellor of Visva Bharati who said: “The current situation is not conducive for centre-based entrance tests. My suggestion is to delay the admissions till we can conduct the entrance test or let agencies like NTA conduct proctored online tests so that aspirants can take the exams from home.”
Private universities such as Amity, Noida which used to offer direct admissions to high scorers in the Class XII Boards are also reworking their criteria. According to Atul Chauhan, Chancellor, Amity University, “The cancellation of Class XII exams will not make much of a difference to our admission process. We give weightage to Class X performance as well as to other achievements and personal interviews before making any offer. We used to offer direct admissions to aspirants who scored 80% and above in their Class XII exams. However, admissions purely based on results are not happening this time and we will decide on the new parameters once the results are announced.”
Calling for a complete revamp of the undergraduate admissions, former CBSE chairperson Ashok Ganguly said: “Time has come for the undergraduate admissions to be revamped altogether. It should no longer be based on a system of elimination rather than a system of admissions. Let some quality points (say 50%) be allotted for Class X and Class XII performances and the rest we must evolve certain criteria so that only genuine students who have an aptitude and attitude get into the system.”
Pointing out that this is the second year that we have been facing the issue of whether to conduct Board exams or not, R Karapaga Kumaravel, vice-chancellor officiating of the Central University of Tamil Nadu, Tiruvarur said there is a need for a permanent solution irrespective of the pandemic.
Batting for innovative formative and periodical evaluation, he said: “We are facing issues as we have been following a year-end terminal exam for students of class 12. If we could have periodic tests for students in a systematic manner, we may not face such an issue.”