'CUET-UG Not To Make Board Exams Redundant', Says UGC Chairman Jagadesh Kumar
According to UGC Chairman M Jagadesh Kumar, the Common University Entrance Test (CUET) for undergraduate admissions is unlikely to render board exams irrelevant. The decrease in pass percentage and the number of students scoring above 90% and 95% in CBSE class 12 exams this year has sparked a debate on whether the introduction of CUET has shifted the focus away from board exams, eventually making them obsolete. However, Kumar clarified that the basic eligibility criterion for university admission remains the same: candidates must have passed the class 12 examination from a recognized board or its equivalent.
Kumar emphasized that board exams at the class 12 level are not likely to become redundant because they serve as "achievement tests," whereas CUET-UG acts as a "selection test." He also highlighted that the marks in grade 12 required for eligibility may vary across programs and universities. The second edition of CUET-UG is scheduled to commence on May 21. The UGC Chairman further explained that the basic eligibility criteria play a crucial role in admissions to all universities and other national-level examinations like JEE (engineering) and NEET (medical).
To ensure a common testing system, the National Testing Agency (NTA) is working on offering a high-quality Common Aptitude Test, along with specialized subject exams in sciences, humanities, languages, arts, and vocational subjects. These exams aim to assess conceptual understanding and the ability to apply knowledge, ultimately reducing the need for coaching. Students can choose the subjects they wish to be tested on, and universities can admit students based on individual interests and talent, considering their subject portfolios.
When asked about how CUET will provide an advantage to students over board exam marks for undergraduate admissions, Kumar stated that previously, students felt immense pressure to secure over 95% marks in the class 12 board exams to gain admission to their desired universities. However, with the introduction of CUET, the pressure to achieve exceptionally high marks in the sole board examination has reduced. The variations in marks across different boards due to question typology and scoring patterns will now be standardized under CUET.
Last year, the UGC announced that undergraduate admissions in all central universities would be conducted through a common entrance test rather than relying solely on class 12 marks. The debut edition of CUET-UG, held in July last year, faced technical issues, leading to the cancellation of the exam at multiple centers. While some students were notified about the cancellation the night before, others were turned away from the centers. The UGC Chairman had attributed the cancellations to reports of "sabotage" at certain centers.
This year, nearly 14 lakh applications have been received for CUET-UG, marking a 41% increase compared to the debut edition. CUET-UG remains the second-largest entrance exam in the country in terms of applicants. In the first edition, 12.50 lakh students registered, with 9.9 lakh of them submitting their applications.