JNU CUET PG 2022: We are appealing govt to change MCQ format of the entrance test, says JNU Vice-Chancellor

Jawaharlal Nehru University has been appealing to the union government to change the Common University Entrance Test (CUET) format for postgraduate admissions, the institution’s vice-chancellor Santishree Dhulipudi Pandit said at The Indian Express’s Idea Exchange session.

Pandit said the admissions to master’s programmes could not be conducted through Multiple Choice Question (MCQ) tests and spoke of the impact on student intake in the absence of qualitative testing.

Referring to the university’s decision to follow the CUET for admissions, she said, “The acceptance to join (CUET), it was done by the previous administration… If I was there, I would have put in these concerns in writing. Because it’s very important, I think, that we tell the government because the bureaucracy does not understand.”

She added, “So, it is important that as a teacher, stakeholder within the system, we have to make them understand that these are the difficulties that we have in reality,” adding: “We are not opposing the system, per se, but the implementation of the system can be disastrous if we are going to have this kind of uniformity.”

CUET-PG is the new common entrance test for admission to postgraduate programmes at central universities. As many as 66 universities, mostly centre-run, have adopted the computer-based CUET-PG for admissions in the academic session 2022-23. It will be held in two shifts each on September 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, and 11 in around 500 cities in India and 13 centres abroad.

The entrance examination tests students only through MCQs. There will be 100 questions in each paper on subjects ranging from language comprehension, verbal ability, social sciences, mathematics, science, general awareness, mathematical and quantitative ability, analytical skills, as well as domain subject-related questions.

Before JNU agreed to adopt CUET-PG, it had its own entrance test which was conducted by the National Testing Agency (NTA). The question paper differed for each programme and carried different types of questions — objective type, subjective type, or short answer type questions.

“In master’s (programme), you cannot have admissions based on MCQs because we don’t even know whether the student can write anything… There should be qualitative answering and testing of other abilities rather than rote memory…This is a limitation…could raise issues with the kind of students we’ll get. Many of them may not even understand the language and problems of communication,” she said.

Pointing out that there was criticism about the same from various quarters, Pandit said, “There has been major criticism that has come from our faculty. Not only our faculty, even from universities where I was earlier. University of Pune also opposed it saying that the students are completely ill-equipped. And once they get that score, there is nothing much you can do. And in social sciences, it’s not like mathematics and science. One question can have several right answers. So it’s very difficult to point out one being right… I think they must have at least two-line answers, essays. Variety has to be there. Otherwise, after five years, this will have a huge impact on the kind of intake in universities”.

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