A policy decision on conducting a single Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) for admission to all engineering colleges across India could be announced soon.
With the deadline for eliciting opinion from stakeholders on the recommendations of the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) Review Committee ending last Thursday, a policy decision on conducting a single Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) for admission to all engineering colleges across the country could be announced soon.
If Smriti Irani's Ministry for Human Resource Development (MHRD) accepts the recommendations then it could well be following a similar suggestion by the erstwhile UPA-II government.
The AICTE Review Committee headed by M K Kaw, former secretary of MHRD, had in its report proposed that a National Testing Agency be established under the AICTE. This agency would endeavour to have a single national entrance test for all institutions under it. The report suggested that while the Common Management Admission Test could be used for admitting students to management degree programmes, the AICTE could use the services of the JEE Main conducted by the CBSE for engineering college admissions. "It will be easy to generate national ranks as well as State-wise ranks through such entrance tests," the report said.
Incidentally, the Committee did not give an unqualified endorsement for conducting a CET. The Kaw panel, in fact, pointed out that in a new age, one has to actively look at ways to do away with entrance exams. However, till one comes up with such a method, the best solution would be to minimise the exams a student has to take.
Presently, many States conduct their own examination for admitting students to BE/BTech courses and almost all deemed universities independently conduct an entrance examination burdening students, both mentally and financially. The cost of application for most entrance examinations is at least '500. Therefore, in a State like Tamil Nadu or Maharashtra, where there are numerous deemed universities, an aspiring engineer may end up spending '5,000 or more on application forms and sit for six to 10 entrance examinations. In fact, the Kaw Committee report noted: "The entrance examination to higher technical institutions attracts eight lakh applications entailing an expenditure of '16,000 crore annually."
In Tamil Nadu and Haryana, the State governments have abolished CET for professional courses. Conducting CET has also been riddled with political and legal controversies. Politicians in Tamil Nadu have vociferously opposed conducting a CET on the ground that rural students do not have access to coaching institutions.
There is also a fear that having a CET could lead to mushrooming of coaching centres. Quite significantly, the Kaw Committee also points out that the coaching business is getting bigger than the education business itself.
"Tamil Nadu will not accept a CET as both Dravidian parties have not supported any form of entrance examination," said former Anna University vice chancellor E Balagurusamy.
Educational activist Prince Gajendra Babu felt that any national CET would only encourage commercialisation and benefit urban students who go to coaching classes.
However, IIT-Madras professor Ashok Jhunjhunwala, who was a member of the AICTE Review Committee, said that the National Testing Centre would focus more on exit tests rather than entrance tests as the former, measuring performance after graduation, will help assess employability of graduates.
Source: New Indian Express