The National Testing Agency (NTA) released results of the maiden Common University Entrance Test for Undergraduate (CUET-UG) admissions late on Thursday night with almost 20,000 candidates scoring 100percentile in around 30 subjects.
The union government had in March announced that it will conduct CUET-UG, in line with the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020, and made its score a mandatory yardstick for all central universities while keeping it optional for others.
At least 90 universities are participating in the CUET-UG this year.
While the NTA– an autonomous testing agency under the union ministry of education was entrusted to conduct the exam–, the higher education regulation University Grants Commission (UGC) worked as its nodal agency for the exam.
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The debut edition of CUET-UG was conducted in six phases between July 15 and August 30 across 489 examination centres located in 259 cities across India and 10 cities abroad.
A total of 14,90,000 candidates had registered for the examination that witnessed 60% consolidated attendance in all six phases.
HT here explains the journey of CUET-UG 2022:
Origin of CUET
In 2010, the government had set up 12 new central universities across the country, and introduced a common entrance exam known as Central University Common Entrance Test (CUCET) for them. Till 2021, those 12 central universities, including central universities of Gujarat, Haryana, Kerala Jammu and Punjab, were conducting admissions through it.
Later in 2020, when NEP was launched, it envisaged a common entrance exam for all universities. To implement the policy recommendations, the UGC had in 2020 set up a seven-member committee headed by VC of Central University of Punjab, RP Tiwari, to prepare the modalities for the common entrance exam.
After several rounds of discussion. UGC submitted its recommendations in December 2020 and suggested implementing them from 2021-22.
However, the UGC had put it on hold in view of the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
In March this year, UGC announced the implementation of the exam under the title CUET from the session 2022-23 and made it the sole criterion for admission to undergraduate courses in all central universities.
Until now, many universities were either enrolling students on the basis of their class 12 performance or were conducting their individual entrance exams.
Why a common entrance exam?
While introducing CUET-UG, the UGC had said it would reduce the burden of students. “The students right now are applying to different universities and appearing in different entrance exams for undergraduate admissions. At the same time, they also have to focus on their board exams to get 99% and 100% marks. We should not assume that all central universities were conducting admissions on the basis of class 12 marks. Many universities have already been conducting their individual entrance exams for undergraduate admissions. Multiple exams were causing a lot of stress not just among the students but also their parents,” UGC Chairperson M Jagadesh Kumar had said.
“Another reason why the NEP 2020 advocated for a ‘one nation one entrance exam’ is to provide equal opportunity to students from different backgrounds and different education boards. It will provide a kind of level playing ground for the students,” he had said.
A section of students, parents, teachers and principal raised concerns over making CUET-UG the sole criteria for undergraduate admissions. They argued that not giving any weightage to class 12 marks in the admission process will make board exams “irrelevant”. Another criticism was on the syllabus of CUCET-UG as it was “strictly” based on NCERT syllabus. People questioned how it would provide equal opportunity to students from other boards, ISC or state boards. Lastly, there were apprehensions that CUET may also mutate into a coaching driven competition like most entrance exams are in the country.
The CUET-UG was a computer-based exam and was conducted in multiple choice questions (MCQ) format. It was divided into four sections namely, I-A, I-B, II, and III. Section I-A and I-B consisted of language subjects. Section II was domain specific and section III was a general test.
A candidate was allowed to choose a maximum of any three languages from Section I-A and Section I-B together, and up to six domain subjects. It means, overall, candidates could take a test in a maximum of nine subjects, i.e., two languages + six domain specific subjects + one general test or three languages + five domain specific subjects + one general test.
The exam will be strictly based on the class 12 NCERT syllabus.
The exam, which was initially planned in two phases, had to be conducted in six phases due to multiple cancellations and postponement of papers after technical issues were reported at the examination centres. While the first phase was conducted in July, the remaining five phases were held throughout August. The initial phases of CUET were marred with technical and administrative glitches. While on August 4, all exams scheduled in the evening shift were cancelled at all 489 centres across the country, 50 and 53 centres were affected on August 5 and 6, respectively.
However, the NTA rescheduled exams for all affected students and extended the dates till August 30.
How CUET-UG was different from NEET, JEE?
In case of both, the National Eligibility Criteria Test (NEET) for admission to medical courses, and the Joint Entrance Exam (JEE) for engineering admissions, there are no subject combinations. It is either Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics or Physics, Chemistry and Biology and everybody takes these combinations only.
However, in CUET-UG, each of the 1.49lakh candidates had applied for at least five universities choosing around 54,000 subject combinations. That makes CUET-UG a big exercise.
The NTA will provide universities with the CUET-UG scores of students who have applied for admission to that particular university. The universities will then prepare their individual cut-off list using those scores and conduct their counseling sessions for admission. Students will have to visit the admission portal of the universities they have applied for and complete the registration process.
Meanwhile, the government is likely to conduct CUET-UG twice next year– one in March-April and the other in November-December – to provide more opportunities to students.