The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Varsity test from college Year I

Calcutta, Oct. 24: The government is planning an overhaul of the undergraduate examination system that includes introduction of university exams from the first year.

A decision to break up the system comprising Part I and Part II exams and replace it with a three-part affair with tests at the end of each year is likely soon. An official said: 'The move, among other things, is meant to instil a sense of seriousness among students who think first-year is fun.'

After Class XII, an undergraduate student's next major examination is Part I, held at the end of the second year.

The West Bengal Council for Higher Education, which is in charge of framing higher education policies, feels that a thorough restructuring of the system in universities across the state is essential to improve the quality of undergraduate education.

'The process of restructuring the undergraduate examination system is on. We need to bring about major changes in our existing system as it has become obsolete,' said Shyamapada Pal, a member of the council and the Calcutta University syndicate.

At two council meetings held to discuss the restructuring, authorities of most universities supported the proposal for a total revamp of the examination system.

The council's plan is not limited to changing the examination pattern only. A proposal is under consideration to decentralise the functioning of the universities and to give greater autonomy to colleges.

'There is a proposal to grant powers to all undergraduate colleges to run BA, BSc and BCom general courses. Under the system, the colleges will be empowered to frame syllabi and conduct examinations for the general-stream courses. The academic control on BA, BSc and BCom honours courses will remain with the university,' said an official.

Recently, Calcutta University granted autonomy to some undergraduate colleges to run post-graduate courses.

Officials said the decentralisation of universities like Calcutta, Burdwan, North Bengal, Kalyani and Vidyasagar is aimed at enabling them to devote more attention to research. Pal said: 'The primary function of a university is to conduct research. But university research in Bengal has suffered over the years with increasing load of examinations, particularly at the undergraduate level.'

Calcutta University, which has over 200 colleges under it, has prepared a research paper on the overhaul of the examination system and the benefits of college autonomy. The paper is now with the council.

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