Common University Entrance Test (CUET) – a brazen violation of academic autonomy


The University Grants Commission (UGC) in its letter dated 26 November 2021 addressed to Vice Chancellors of all central universities advised them to ‘‘take appropriate measures for the Common Entrance Test from the academic session 2022-2023’’ for both undergraduate (UG) and postgraduate (PG). The letter reminded the VCs that ‘‘there is a provision of Common Entrance Test for all Universities through National Testing Agency (NTA)’’ in the National Educational Policy (NEP) – 2020. It also claimed that the NTA ‘‘will serve as a premier, expert, autonomous testing organization to offer high quality common aptitude test … in the sciences, humanities, languages, arts, and vocational subjects in higher education institutions.’’ In spite of the provision for CUET for all universities this year they have resolved to conduct for central universities only, though the facility will remain open for ‘‘willing State/Private Universities/Deemed to be Universities.’’
It is pertinent to mention here that conduction of entrance examination for UG and PG courses is purely an academic issue. The decision regarding modalities of conduction of that, pattern of setting question papers, process of evaluation and post-examination preparation of merit list based on which admission of students is done are statutory right of the academic bodies of the universities. Any interference on this right by any outside agency like NTA will be a blatant violation on academic autonomy. Courses and curriculum, standard of teaching, quality of students–all vary from university to university. How can there be a uniformity in this regard and how can NTA, an external agency having no knowledge of this variance in standard as well as modalities of admission in different higher Education Institutes (HEIs) be entrusted with such a crucial responsibility? Moreover, the national level competition might be tougher than the existing single campus level competition and if the students who figure into the merit list coping with the trying condition, would they run from one college or university to another for admission? Clearly, this move is to operationalize the design of the autocratic BJP government to impose centralized administrative and bureaucratic control over education, under the garb of one-nation, one-examination, and one-entrance test’ policy, ignoring the multi-lingual, multi-ethnic, multi-cultural features of our country and the role of the various state governments as education is in the concurrent list.
The concept of autonomy of education is a hard earned right in the governance of education which is now slated to be subverted in tune with the fascization of education prescribed in National Education Policy (NEP). It enjoins education-loving people from all parts of the county to raise a united voice of opposition against the move and build up a powerful organized movement to thwart it.

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