Indian higher education system may witness a major change soon in terms of conducting seven crucial entrance tests- Common Admission Test (CAT), Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) Main, JEE Advanced, Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE), Common Management Admission Test (CMAT), National Eligibility Cum Entrance Test (NEET) and National Eligibility Test (NET). More than 40 lakh candidates appear for these exams, which are the biggest in their respective domains. At present, Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) conduct these entrance exams annually. With a view to ease the load of CBSE that is encumbered with the responsibility of conducting too many entrance exams apart from board examinations for classes X and XII, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) has proposed the Cabinet to form National Testing Service (NTS) after the former wrote to University Grants Commission (UGC) stating the same.
As per the proposal, NTS, an independent body, has to be set up whose sole aim will be to conduct entrance tests for higher education, similar to the Educational Testing Service (ETS) in the United States. The NTS of India will assume complete responsibility for holding all these entrance exams.
A ministry official was quoted saying to an English daily, “The primary mandate of bodies such as CBSE and AICTE does not include conducting entrance exams on such a large scale. This leaves them stretched for time and resources”. The need of NTS was felt in the past too, but the idea was put off ultimately. The Programme of Action, National Knowledge Commission and Ashok Misra Committee had advocated setting up of an autonomous body for conducting higher education entrance tests. HRD Ministry is now pursuing the proposal afresh.
What numbers speak?
As per media reports, National Testing Service will be formed as a society under the Indian Societies Act by June 2017. Initially, the independent body will conduct NEET, JEE, GATE, UGC-NET from October 2017 to March 2018. All administrative and operational expenses are expected to met by the examination fee paid by 40 lakh students, who appear in these exams annually. According to the reports, the NTS will be provided with a one-time grant of Rs.50 crore for commencing its operations.
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