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The Hindu
The Hindu

Fourth phase of CUET to begin Aug 17

The fourth phase of Central University Entrance Test (CUET)-UG 2022 will begin on Wednesday with nearly 3.6 lakh candidates expected to appear for the exam.

The exam for additional 11,000 candidates, who were to appear in the fourth phase from August 17-20, has been postponed till August 30 to accommodate their choice of city for centre, officials said.

According to the initial plan, all phases of the CUET-UG were scheduled to conclude on August 20. The National Testing Agency (NTA), which is responsible for conducting the exam, later announced that all phases of the exam would conclude on August 28.

Exam in six phases

However, now the schedule has been further deferred and the exam has been split into six phases.

"The exam for over 11,000 candidates, out of 3.72 lakh candidates, has been postponed to August 30 to accommodate their choice of city for exam centre. The NTA has increased the capacity at centres and also added more exam centres, besides making efforts to ensure that the quality of the centres is enhanced," UGC Chairman Jagadesh Kumar had announced.

The second phase of CUET was marred by glitches prompting the agency to cancel the exam at various centres.

Mr. Kumar said the exam was cancelled at various centres following indications and reports of "sabotage". The exam in the second and third phases was also cancelled at centres in Kerala and Itanagar due to rains and landslides.

`Technical glitches no setback’

The technical glitches encountered in the initial phases of the Common University Entrance Test (CUET) would not affect expansion plans for the crucial exam which includes a proposal to merge it with JEE and NEET, according to UGC Chairman Jagadesh Kumar.

Mr. Kumar said the issues faced in the conduct of the test would be ironed out soon and the exam would be conducted twice a year.

"The technical glitches in initial phases of CUET-UG are not setbacks but lessons. They will be ironed out in the near future and will in no way deter scaling up or expansion plans for the crucial exam," he said.

Mr. Kumar had earlier said that in future the engineering entrance exam JEE and medical entrance exam NEET would also be merged with CUET.

"As per the NEP, the plan is to have a common entrance exam to reduce the burden on students to appear in multiple entrances. However, we won't hurry up to introduce it as we need to plan well. It is a massive exercise and our focus is on planning and taking forward from the lessons we have learnt while conducting CUET," he said.

Asked when the merger was expected, Mr. Kumar said the modalities were yet to be worked out.

“An expert committee will be set up by the end of this month. It will study all important entrance exams being conducted in the country as well as abroad. If we have to introduce the exam next year, the preparation has to start now considering the massive exercise and the different disciplines involved.”

"There also has to be a consensus among stakeholders and the two main issues we need to address is the syllabus as well as the difficulty level as each discipline has its own peculiarities," he added..

Students clueless about cancellation

The debut edition of CUET-UG began in July and has been marred with glitches prompting the National Testing Agency (NTA) to cancel exams at multiple centres. While several students were informed about cancellation a night before the exam, many of them were turned away from centres citing cancellations.

Mr. Kumar said the exam at certain centres had been cancelled following reports of "sabotage". The fourth phase of the CUET-UG is set to begin on Wednesday.

With 14.9 lakh registrations, the CUET, the common gateway for undergraduate admissions in all central universities, is now the second biggest entrance exam in the country, surpassing JEE-Main’s average registration of nine lakh.

NEET-UG is the biggest entrance test in India with an average of 18 lakh registrations.

CBT or pen-paper

While JEE-Mains is a Computer Based Test (CBT) conducted twice a year, NEET is conducted in pen and paper mode.

"CBT is the future. Conducting an exam of this scale in pen and paper mode will be a logistical nightmare. The ultimate plan is to conduct a single exam, twice a year and in computer based mode," he said.

Asked about the concerns of usage of unfair means which often cloud NEET, Mr. Kumar said, "CUET had glitches because it stopped right where there were any reports or possibilities of sabotage and hence we haven't found any case of usage of unfair means so far in CUET".

Explaining how the exam will address the issues of overlapping subjects or disciplines, Mr. Kumar said, tentatively each phase of the exam will have certain days on which the tests in subjects such as physics, chemistry, maths and biology (subjects in JEE and NEET) would be conducted and rest of the days would be for other subjects like history, political science, among others.

"The scale of CUET is already huge. The diversity of subjects is less in JEE and NEET than CUET. We need to consider two areas while planning---academics and logistics. Some concerns have been raised about difficulty level and syllabi. We will address all concerns before going ahead," he said.

The University Grants Commission (UGC) had in March announced that the undergraduate admissions would be conducted in all central universities through a common entrance test and not on the basis of Class 12 marks.

“There also has to be a consensus among stakeholders and the two main issues we need to address is the syllabus as well as the difficulty level as each discipline has its own peculiarities”Jagadesh KumarUGC Chairman

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