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DU teachers and aspirants raise concerns over CUCET

Several aspirants have been writing to teachers and officials at DU requesting them to look into the matter.
UPDATED ON JUN 19, 2021 12:33 PM IST
New Delhi, India - Feb. 1, 2021: Students outside the University Plaza after Delhi University reopened for final year students in New Delhi, India, on Monday, February 1, 2021. (Photo by Amal KS / Hindustan Times)

With the possibility of a common entrance exam for admissions to undergraduate courses at Delhi University (DU) this year, teachers and aspirants have raised concerns over the new format, saying it will disadvantage students from the marginalised and rural backgrounds and those opting for a stream change.

Last year, the Union education ministry constituted a committee to look into modalities for the Central Universities Common Entrance Test (CUCET) for admissions to all undergraduate (UG) courses at central universities in accordance with the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020.

While the committee has submitted its report and the ministry is yet to come out with a final decision on whether it would be implemented this year or not, DU teachers have expressed concerns over the matter.

Former DU executive council member Rajesh Jha said that introducing a new mode of entrance test without giving aspirants time to familiarise themselves with the syllabus or the paper pattern may disadvantage those students who don’t have uninterrupted access to learning material.

“Cancellation of board exams has given way to demands for CUCET so that some form of an exam is conducted for admissions to UG courses in DU. But we should not implement anything without proper consultation with the university’s academic council and other statutory bodies. There have been several research reports documenting centralised tests such as CUCET have favoured people from affluent backgrounds who have access to better study material and we need an inclusive admission policy,” he said.

Several aspirants have been writing to teachers and officials at DU requesting them to look into the matter and form an inclusive admission policy. On Thursday, a group of Class 12 students from across the country also wrote to DU’s acting vice-chancellor PC Joshi on the matter.

“The proposed format in the existing CUCET exams contains a subject-specific exam. On the other hand, universities like DU have courses that are open for students who have not studied the subject [in Class 12] before allowing changing of streams. There were no restrictions in choosing the subjects for graduation. But if one aspires to pursue a subject which s/he didn’t learn in class 11 and 12, then such group of students will face problems in competing in the entrance exams where there is a subject-specific test,” the students wrote in the letter.

Tisha Mondal, a Class 12 student from a private school in Bengaluru who is a part of the group, said, “We don’t have issues with CUCET as it is a great alternative for merit-based admissions. But it had to be announced earlier. It is already mid-June and it is likely that the exams will be conducted in July or August. We don’t even have the time to collect resources, practice mock papers, and it is more difficult for those who are changing their streams for their undergraduate exam. Online coaching classes have already started for CUCET and those with high-internet access already have an edge over others.”

Another Class 12 student. Tanisha Pathak, who is from Haldwani in Uttarakhand, said, “We still have no idea as to how in case of an integrated exam DU is going to address this issue. If DU adopts the same eligibility criteria as the other Central Universities, then it would simply restrict students from joining these courses. Moreover, conducting CUCET will contradict the NEP, which freely allows students to switch streams.”

Vishal Shrivas, a resident of Tikamgarh in the Bundelkhand region of Madhya Pradesh, said his younger brother wanted to apply for Delhi University this year but the possibility of CUCET has left him worried.

“Students in our district are used to appearing for offline papers. They are not used to online tests conducted in computer centres, which is the likely format for CUCET. ...with the pandemic, offline learning options are few and resource gathering will also be scarce. Students with little to no internet access will suffer,” he said.

Joshi said the CUCET committee has taken all these considerations into account while preparing the report. “There has been no final decision on the entrance exams yet and whenever that happens, these concerns will be taken into account. There is no need for unfounded fear and aspirants will be provided reasonable time and syllabus for the test. It is premature to worry about this right now,” he said.

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