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Principal Secretary HED acknowledges slow pace of awareness on CUET for UG Programmes, but assures they are on the job

The CUET distress

The Principal Secretary HED says they are on the job to raise awareness on CUET for UG Programmes but acknowledges that pace of awareness was not picking up

Syed Rizwan Geelani 

The majorities of the Universities in Jammu and Kashmir for the first time have announced that the admissions at Undergraduate level in all colleges affiliated with the respective Universities will be done through the Common University Entrance Test (CUET).

The move has created chaos and confusion among the students who are still busy with their ongoing class 12th examination. The announcement of going ahead with UG admissions in colleges has come at an inappropriate time which has left the students in a dilemma. There is no understanding, awareness among the students about the CUET.

The CUET is a computer-based test conducted annually by the National Testing Agency (NTA), which is responsible for conducting entrance tests for various universities and colleges across the country.

The test assesses a student's aptitude and knowledge in various subjects, including mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, and general knowledge.

The introduction of CUET at this point of time has come up with more challenges than opportunities or benefits for the students across Jammu and Kashmir. The universities and the autonomous colleges adopted the CUET without creating prior awareness in the form of seminars and campaigns to familiarize the students with the new system of pursuing higher education.

No doubt the CUET has come up with some advantages which include that the students will need not to appear for multiple entrance exams. With a single test (CUET), students can apply to various universities, which reduces the financial burden and stress associated with preparing for multiple exams.

CUET also ensures that students from rural and remote areas have access to the same opportunities as their urban counterparts.

Another benefit of CUET is that it promotes fairness and transparency in the admission process. Under CUET, all the students are evaluated on the same criteria, which eliminates the possibility of discrimination or favoritism. Another aspect of the CUET is that it will do away with old practice when the students were given admission on the basis of the "catchment area". Now, the students will be given admission on the basis of merit.

However, Universities and colleges in J&K issued the notification suddenly for adopting CUET which has left the prospective applicants across the J&K UT in a state of chaos and confusion.

With the result, the students from Jammu and Kashmir may not be able to reap its benefits this year. The students are being asked to prepare for the CUET when they are yet to complete their class 12th examination. With the result, these students are under double stress now because of the CUET announcement. Moreover, the students who are aspiring for medical science and Engineering examinations are in a fix at this stage whether to apply for CUET or not. It is obvious that these students must be concentrating on their ongoing exams followed by the preparation for NEET and JEE.

Pertinent to mention that the NEP 2020 implemented by the J&K government has come up with flexibility and freedom for students to study with ease. But the apparent mismanagement of the related components of the scheme are creating chaos in the minds of the students, leaving them at the receiving end.

"It was not a right decision to announce the decision of going ahead with CUET as students are neither prepared for it nor they have any idea about it as they are still occupied with class 12th exams. The government should have given some breathing time to the students," an official said.

Given the uncertainty over CUET, the government should have announced it in October or November last year or during the winter vacation period. The announcement should have been followed by holding several awareness programmes at school and college level by inviting students to make them aware about the scheme of things.

Earlier, the last date for submission of online applications for CUET was March 12 which however was extended to March 30 given the unawareness among the students. But the NTA and UGC may further need to be extended by two weeks by the time students get the clear idea about the process.

"The government has taken a decision in haste and it will definitely cause a lot of harm to many students. Universities and colleges have to reach out to students living in far off places," a college professor said.

While the students of soft zone areas are appearing in their exams, the students of hard zone areas are yet to appear in their class 12th exams. Now doubt it will not bar them from doing online registration for CUET but given the state of their mind, it will be really difficult for them to concentrate on CUET while they are yet to appear in their class 12th exams.

Another concern of CUET is that the aspirants may have to travel 50 to 60 kilometres as their exam centres for CUET can be designated in any college.

"Going by the trend, the students do not get the employability on the basis of UG degree. So it will cause inconvenience to many people," the college professor said.

While the issue has created chaos everywhere, the government should have thrown this issue in the public domain for feedback.

"It is a unilateral decision. There is no problem in competing but we need time. They should have started it from the next academic session," said Misba Bhat, while expressing her concern over the issue.

To address the concerns put forth by the students and other stakeholders, the government and universities must create awareness about the CUET among students in Jammu and Kashmir is a crucial step towards improving access to higher education and enhancing the quality of education in the region. By creating awareness about the test and its benefits, students will be able to better prepare themselves for it and increase their chances of success.

Amid the chaos and uncertainty, the Principal Secretary Higher Education Department (HED) said efforts will be made to generate awareness among the students and other stakeholders about CUET by holding seminars and other means.

"We are trying our best to create awareness about it but I do not know why it is not picking up. The students are busy with their class 12th exams but we are trying our best as much as possible," Alok Kumar told Greater Kashmir.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.

The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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