CUET: A New Criterion
The decision to hold computerised Common University Entrance Test (CUET), for admission to undergraduate courses in all 45 central universities of the country, to be conducted by the National Testing Agency (NTA), should be welcomed. According to a section of educationists, the new system will provide much needed relief to students from higher, sometimes insanely high cut-off marks as the performance in the Class XII board examination will no longer be the sole criterion for admissions in the undergraduate courses. At the same time, CUET will help students living in remote areas of the country compete for a place in premier educational institutions of the country, which were beyond their reach until last academic year as various central universities followed different procedures for admissions in UG courses. Lack of uniformity in the admission process made it difficult for students even to apply for multiple central universities. Introduction of CUET will make students eligible for any of the 45 central universities of the country, if they can clear the eligibility exam. It will end the practice of submitting multiple application forms and fees or running to various cities seeking admissions. Many feel that if implemented properly, CUET will lesser anxiety and uncertainty over admissions in central universities. It is further argued that such a system became necessary as various boards conducting Class XII exams use different methods for evaluation, which makes proper evaluation difficult. Thus, the Class XII marks will not be the only yardstick and the new admission process will provide a level playing field to all students.
However, there are still some areas of concern for students as the procedures to be adopted in CUET are still being framed. Also, it must be mentioned here that in 2010, some central universities joined hands to conduct such a common entrance test. But the experiment failed at the very beginning due to lack of proper planning. Hopefully, as the University Grants Commission (UGC) has taken the initiative, the faults will be rectified to make CUET truly helpful to students. In this regard, it should be kept in mind that a single examination cannot judge the potential of a student accurately. So, completely discarding the marks of the Class XII examination is not advisable. Instead, weightage should be given to both board and entrance examination marks, to select deserving candidates. Moreover, as it will be a computerised test, UGC should take special measures in imparting computer education to students belonging to rural and remote areas of the country as students from those areas faced tremendous hardships both in terms of training and connectivity, while online classes were being held due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Moreover, examination centres should be set up all over the country to ensure that students are not forced to travel hundreds of kilometers to appear for the entrance test. All these steps are necessary to ensure that meritorious students are not deprived from pursuing higher studies.