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One Nation, One Exam: A comfort or just another distress

Author: Rashika Mathur, III year of B.E. Electrical from Dr . Kiran Pallavi Global University (affiliated to Gujarat Technological University)

We all have given entrance or eligibility exams at some point in life, let aside whether it is a public or private university. Have you ever thought that just giving a unified exam and you will get your university according to your preference of profession?

University Grant Commission (UGC) all the way has come up with a proposal to merge National Eligibility Entrance Test (NEET) for Medical Colleges and Joint Entrance Exam (JEE) for IITs, NITs, IIITs etc. into Common University Entrance Test (CUET). Moreover, in a recent interview with Times of India, Chairman of UGC, M Jagdesh Kumar, clarified various things regarding this.[i]

There are diverse views among students regarding this proposal of UGC; some defend this proposal by stating that it will reduce burden, and some oppose saying that it will be a blunder on account of logistics failure which is new normal during such Examinations.

What did the Chairman of UGC state?

M Jagdesh Kumar was very reluctant to accept logistics failure during CUET's last phase and defended it by saying that National Testing Agency is in the learning stage. All ambiguities are being taken care of. Speaking on the one nation exam, he stated that the proposal is ready, and students need not worry as UGC is in no hurry to implement it; there will be proper consultation and planning. He supported this proposal by saying that this step reduces the burden on students.

He seems to tranquillize the critics with the promise of the expert committee on this subject matter and also stated that stakeholders know about the enigma around this proposal and that everything will be addressed appropriately.

What merits could it bring to students and the Government across the nation?

In my opinion, this step will surely simplify the process of selecting a Government University and College; if we talk about today's scenario, the examination process is too complicated, and students who have the guidance of someone quickly learn the way. However, students from remote areas find learning about these mainstream diversified exams challenging and lose many times. However, if this proposal gets a green flag, everyone will have to focus on one exam after their 12th exam.

Moreover, as per UGC, this unified exam will take place twice a year[ii]Students will have another chance if their phase- 1 does not go well. In my opinion, these 2- phase examinations will help students hold on to their hopes and considerably reduce the number of suicide cases in India. According to NCRB, every day, 28 students attempt suicide in India, which is a deplorable state of affairs[iii]. And out of 100%, 1.4% people commit suicide due to 'Failure in examinations[iv]. It may sound less but think about the grief and sorrow they leave behind for their ageing parents. This step will significantly help students not to take such steps.

It will be easier for the Government to consider earnings and expenditure from such exams. For example,according to an RTI, NTA made whooping 192 crores and saved 155 crores after expenditure on exam conduction and counselling in 2019. [v]Imagine the numbers that Government earns from all such competitive exams. If this proposal gets accepted, it will save man force and resources for accounting and collecting such a massive amount of money. Additionally, Government will earn more interest on the principal amount.

Why are students criticizing this proposal?

After news came out that such a proposal was under consideration, students were divided into appraisers and criticizers; if we look at this proposal critically, yes, there are many loopholes that are to be worked out and will not be easy peasy.

A section of students is worried that this will take more toll on mental issues than anything else, as this proposal put them in a do-or-die situation. Until now, there is ambiguity over how many chances a student will have to give this unified exam.

Though the UGC chairman assured us that there would be proper consultation and planning before implementing this proposal, as we all know, this Government is famous for executing decisions without proper planning, recent example: Demonetisation etc. It is a matter of worry for students across the nation, 'Will this government properly plan before implementing this proposal?' Because it is a well-known fact that the difficulty level and syllabus are not the same for any of the two exams.

There is dissent among students regarding the Logistical and facilities needed to conduct this exam. Logistical failure during CUET phase- 1 has increased frowning lines overhead students. Does Government have human resources and management so good that students will not suffer? Chairman hinted that UGC is planning to implement it next year. Students are just asking a question, 'Is the government ready to conduct this big exam in ground reality anytime soon?' If you ask this question, my answer would be no.

Someone who has absolutely no objection to this proposal?The answer is Private Universities; students claim that this proposal puts privately owned universities into a win-win situation. Those who want admission desperately after failing this unified exam will be lured by Private Universities, which will demand high fees and take a toll on the pocket of guardians. We are still recovering from damage incurred by COVid-19, specifically financial loss faced by the middle- class of India; amid this, no parent wants his or her ward to stop studies. So, they will do whatever they can to make her ward study in the best colleges and universities. Privately owned firms will take advantage of this situation.

The learning gap is a real thing in India, which this proposal will widen. Tier- 1 and Tier- 3 cities not only have a vast development gaps but also learning gaps. In my opinion, it will be widened if this proposal passes. Tier- 3 cities still lack basic facilities; the learning gap is inevitable to resist.

Author’s honest opinion

First, I would like to quote Nelson Mandela, "Stop being afraid of what could go wrong and think of what could go right." Things may seem complicated initially, but if I talk personally, I belong to an exceptionally far place, and there was no one to guide me about what exam to attempt and how to attempt it. However, somehow I managed to do it myself. When I think of other students, I feel pretty bad about how complicatedthis entrance examinations system is; how many students lose opportunities to this? In my opinion, this is a good initiative by UGC and Government, but ambiguities must be taken care of properly. So students should not suffer in any case.

[i]https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/education/one-entrance-ugc-plan-to-merge-neet-jee-into-cuet/articleshow/93509159.cms [ii]https://zeenews.india.com/india/one-nation-one-exam-ugcs-proposal-to-merge-neet-jee-into-cuet-2496248.html#:~:text=NEET%2C%20JEE%20Merger%2D%20One%20nation,boards)%20and%20another%20in%20December. [iii] https://ncrb.gov.in/sites/default/files/adsi2020_Chapter-2-Suicides.pdf [iv] https://ncrb.gov.in/sites/default/files/adsi2020_Chapter-2-Suicides.pdf [v]https://www.business-standard.com/article/education/neet-2019-govt-made-rs-192-cr-from-registration-fee-for-counselling-119110601231_1.html