New Delhi- The debut edition of the CUET-UG examination, a major education sector reform that will alter the admission process in central universities, kicked off on Friday amid complaints by harried students about last-minute change of exam centres, long commute, and lengthy question papers.
With 14.9 lakh registrations, the Common University Entrance Test (CUET), the common gateway for undergraduate admissions in all central universities, is now the second biggest entrance exam in the country, surpassing JEE-Main’s average registration of nine lakh.
NEET-UG is the biggest entrance test in India with an average of 18 lakh registrations.
“All set to start the first CUET at 9.00 am. Best wishes to all the students who are writing CUET,” UGC Chairman Jagadesh Kumar tweeted, encouraging students, gripped by anxiety over delayed delivery of admit cards and packed examination schedule.
Compounding their problems was a last-minute change of centre which resulted in many missing their test, prompting officials to assure they will get another chance in the second phase of CUET in August.
The examination at two centres in West Bengal’s New Jalpaiguri and Punjab’s Pathankot was cancelled due to technical issues. They will also get a second chance to realise their dream of studying in a central university.
“Over 190 candidates who were to appear at the two centres will now be allowed to appear in the second phase in August. At other centres, the candidates who could not appear due to changes in exam centres will also get another chance,” a senior official of the National Testing Agency (NTA), which conducts the examination, said.
Some who took the test in the national capital in the morning slot said the questions were not difficult but the papers were a bit lengthy.
But 18-year-old Anchal was dejected and downcast. Standing outside the examination centre at the tree-lined North Campus, home to reputed institutions like St. Stephen’s College, Shri Ram College of Commerce, Hindu College and Miranda House, she said she was allotted a centre in Dwarka. But when she reached there, she was not allowed in.
“I was informed that my centre has been changed. I panicked and did not know what to do. After a 2-hour journey, when we finally reached the North Campus, they told us the time for entering the exam centre has passed,” she said with a plaintive sigh.
On whether she was informed about the change of centre beforehand, Aanchal replied, “I checked my mail only after I was informed that this is not my centre. I would have checked it earlier had I known that the centre would be changed.”
Ritika, too, suffered the same fate. When she reached Netaji Subhas University of Technology, as was mentioned in her admit card, she was informed that her new examination centre was on the North Campus.
“I rushed to North Campus but was not allowed entry because the time was over. This is wrong, our whole future hangs in balance,” said, visibly tired of running around.
Some aspirants, who came from faraway corners of the national capital, said it took them around 1.5 hours to reach the centre.
“I feel the arrangements could have been better. The admit card could have been made available a few days ahead of the exam and the centre should have been allocated closer to students’ homes.
“The weather is very hot. There is no metro connectivity to the place where I live. So, we took an auto till the bus stand and then boarded a bus. By the time I reached the examination centre, I was drenched in sweat,” said Kamya.
Long queues of aspirants could be seen outside examination centres. Books in hand, many were doing last-minute revisions for the exam that will transform the way undergraduate admissions are conducted in the country, especially at popular central universities like Delhi University, where the Class 12 result was the deciding factor.
There had been allegations that students from state boards that gave liberal marks secured admission to reputed colleges without having the required merit.
The CUET will be conducted in two phases. Phase 1 will be held in July and Phase 2 in August. Candidates who have opted for Physics, Chemistry or Biology have been assigned Phase 2 of the CUET exam, given that NEET (UG) – 2022 for admissions to MBBS and BDS colleges will be held on July 17.
The University Grants Commission chief had said in March that CUET scores, and not Class 12 marks, will determine the admission to 45 central universities which can fix their minimum eligibility criteria.
Kumar had clarified that students from state boards will not be at a disadvantage under the new system and the exam will not give a push to the coaching culture.
A total of 44 central universities, 12 state universities, 11 deemed universities, and 19 private universities have applied for participating in the first edition of CUET-UG for the academic session 2022-23.
The UGC had on Wednesday asked universities to fix deadlines for admissions to undergraduate courses only after the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) declares Class 12 exam results.
Noting that some universities have already started the admission process, the UGC said this will lead to the CBSE students being deprived of seats in these institutes.
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