The Common University Entrance Test (CUET) based on multiple choice questions over the decades old subjective entrance test pattern --- academicians are raising doubts over the new examination pattern for postgraduate admissions in Jawaharlal Nehru University.
Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), which sees cutthroat competition in admissions to its masters programmes, fears that the multiple choice questions (MCQ) based test pattern will dilute the quality of students attracted by the university. According to JNU Vice-Chancellor Santishree Dhulipudi Pandit, the university has been appealing to the Centre to change the CUET format for postgraduate admissions.
"For masters programmes, we need to test the overall understanding of the subject, opinions and critical thinking besides knowledge. The MCQs have a different testing pattern and aptitude," she said.
The JNU Teachers Association (JNUTA) had recently moved a resolution demanding that the university suspend its agreement with the National Testing Agency (NTA) and immediately restore JNU’s own time-tested admission procedures.
Previously, the university used to admit students to undergraduate courses through subjective exams conducted by it. From 2019 however, it started admitting students through the JNU Entrance Examination conducted by the NTA. The university announced earlier this year that it would conduct admissions to all undergraduate and postgraduate courses through the CUET.
"We also need to take into account the unique nature of the university and peculiarity of different centres and the courses offered by them. There is a reason why the university attracts the best talent from across the country and its the selection process," JNU Professor Bishnupriya Dutt said.
"If we have to provide a level playing field to everyone, CUET-PG can be a subjective exam but to test aspirants of Masters Programmes on basis of a MCQ based exam is not the right metric," she said. JNU professor Ayesha Kidwai said that the university had its own entrance test system, which used to analyse students on the basis of their writing skills and their opinion-making capacity.
"JNU has been in existence for over 50 years and the university was holding its entrance for nearly 48 years before the former Vice-Chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar, who is now UGC chairman, brought in the JNU Entrance Exam (JNUEE) by tying up with the NTA. The move not only meant that we lost out on good students but NTA also charged three times the money the university would spend on holding the exam.
"The university, when it was conducting its own exam, also used to make a profit of Rs 1.5 crore, which would then be used by the university tto give Merit Cum means Scholarship to students," she said.
Mr Kidwai said that the Vice-Chancellor should call an Academic Council meeting and withdraw from CUET and she will get the support of the entire teaching community. The CUET-PG is the new common entrance test for admission to postgraduate programmes at Central universities.
As many as 66 universities, mostly Centre-run, have adopted the computer-based CUET PG for admissions in the academic session 2022-23. It will be held in two shifts each on September 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10 and 11 in around 500 cities in India and 13 centres abroad. Delhi University professor Abha Dev Habib hailed JNU Vice-Chancellor for raising her voice against the CUET format.
"The Delhi University (DU) conducts the DUET which is also based on the MCQ format but the difference is that it is being done by the university, which means that the university has a say in framing the MCQs and deciding on the students it wants and a certain filtering process but with CUET, it will be a one size fits all approach.
"Every university has different postgraduate courses and a different character, which wil be hampered by the CUET. Also technical glitches in CUET-UG have also been a huge letdown for students, who aspire to study in central universities," she said.