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One agency for all higher edu exams
By Our Correspondent
: The Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) has set up a task force to prepare a blueprint for a national agency to conduct various entrance examinations and recruitment tests in the country.

The eight-member task force will be headed by former IIT-Kanpur director Sanjay Dhandhe.

The Chairman of the Central Board of Secondary Education, and one representative each from the University Grants Commission (UGC) and All India Institute of Technical Education (AICTE) will be among the members of the panel, among others.

The proposal to set up a National Testing Agency (NTA) is yet another ambitious move by the Centre to push its “one nation, one test” agenda to relieve students from the burden of facing multiple entrance tests, even as MHRD assures that the new system will not be imposed on any institution.

According to the MHRD proposal, NTA's basic mandate will be to conduct efficient, transparent tests of international standards in order to assess the competency of candidates for admission to colleges and professional institutes of higher learning, including engineering, medicine and management.

The proposal also seeks to hold nationwide tests for the purpose of recruitment in various government departments and granting scholarships in future.

“The task force set up to prepare the blueprint will suggest ways and means of setting up such an internationally-benchmarked testing and assessment agency. It will also suggest parameters to standardise all the major tests, including the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE), conducted in the country,” a HRD Ministry official said on July 12.

The idea of setting up a National Testing Agency has been under the consideration of the ministry for several years. When Kapil Sibal was the HRD minister, he had wanted to set up the NTA by an Act of Parliament to make it a statutory body.

The ministry, however, later dropped the idea of setting up such a body in view of its experiences with its various key legislations, which have been pending for passage in Parliament for a long time.

The ministry now plans to set up the proposed agency by an executive order. The proposal to set up NTA got approval of the Central Advisory Board on Education (CABE) in its last meeting.


Eamcet to split. AP, Telangana to part ways

HYDERABAD : The Andha Pradesh government has finally decided to give in to Telangana's dogged demand to hold a separate EAMCET. The two state governments are likely to make a formal announcement on separate EAMCETs and Intermediate exams soon.

According to the plan worked out by the two states, each of them will hold its own Eamcet and the students in the two states will be given an option to take the exam of either state or appear for both.

The admissions, according to the plan, will be common and students of each state can claim admission in the 15 per cent open quota in both the states irrespective of which Eamcet they opt for. There will, however, be no sharing in Intermediate exams and each state board will hold its own Intermediate exam for students under its own territorial jurisdiction.

Each state has promised to ensure that there is a gap of atleast a week between the two Eamcets.

"The accord reached between the two states ends months of confusion," AP education minister Ganta Srinivasa Rao said on December 21 adding that the dates for the exam would be announced in the next two or three days.

Telangana education minister G. Jagadish Reddy defended the decision, stating that the AP Reorganisation Act, 2014, spoke only about common admissions and not common exams. “TS will abide by the Act and will offer 15 per cent seats in the open quota to AP students in Eamcet counselling. There is no loss to any student if separate Eamcet is conducted. The existing seat matrix and reservations would be followed in the counselling. There is no justification in arguing for common Eamcet now for two different states.

The TS government has also referred the issue to the law department which examined the case and came out with suggestions on the norms that need to be followed while issuing a separate Eamcet notification.

Both governments are under pressure to issue the Eamcet schedule soon owing to confusion among students.

Lucknow's Lohia law varsity to hold CLAT 2015

LUCKNOW : The Ram Manohar Lohiya National Law University has decided to hold the Common L aw Admission Test - 2015 (CLAT) online. The filling of forms will start from January 1, 2015 and the exam will be held on May 2, a Sunday, vice-chancellor Gurdip Singh said on NovemberRam Manohar Lohiya National Law University, Lucknow. 1.

With this decision, taken during a meeting of the CLAT core committee on Saturday, the admission process has become completely online, from the filling of forms right up to the final fee submission.

A major highlight of the meeting was that despite several demands for hiking the CLAT fee, it was unanimously decided that the amount should remain the same.

The number of participating universities was 15 till last year, but now, with the inclusion of Damodaran Sanjeevaiya National Law University in Andhra Prasdesh, it has gone up to 16.

Earlier, a meeting of the vice-chancellors of National Law Universities of India on September 30 led to a major change in the existing MoU, which until then had provided that CLAT was to be conducted every year in rotation by the seven older national law universities.

These were National Law School of India University in Bengaluru, NALSAR University of Law in Hyderabad, National Law I nstitute University, Bhopal, West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences based in Kolkata, National Law University in Jodhpur, Hidayatullah National Law University in Raipur and Gujarat National Law University, Gandhinagar.

Other universities were finally permitted to conduct the CLAT after a serious push by Lohia law varsity V-C Gurdip Singh, who has now been entrusted to conduct the test next year. Convenor of the 2014 test, Gujarat National Law University director Bimal N Patel has handed the charge to Singh.

GATE to go the JEE way, have 2-tier exam

NEW DELHI : The National Co-ordination Board (NCB) of the Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE) has proposed a two-tier test for admission to the M.Tech programme run by the Indian Institutes of Technology and the IISc, Bangalore. The test will, like the new JEE, have a screening test followed by the main admission test.

According to a newspaper report the new pattern is being adopted to cope up with the massive increase in the number of aspirants in the past five years — from 1.8 lakh in 2008 to more than 10 lakh this year.

The National Co-ordination Board (NCB), which conducts the test each year, comprises the directors of the seven older IITs and the Bangalore-based Indian Institute of Science (IISc).

The screening exam, planned to be entrusted to a private agency, will be more like an aptitude test. The final test, to be conducted by the IITs and IISc, will assess the domain (subject) knowledge of the students, said The Telegraph report quoting an IIT director.

“The NCB has written to all IITs to get the views of the faculty on the two-tier GATE proposal and outsource the screening test to a private firm,” the director added.

Each of the seven IITs last week issued circulars to the heads of departments asking them to give their views after speaking to the faculty members.

The move assumes significance against the backdrop of recent changes brought to the IIT-JEE examination. For admission to BTech courses in the IITs from next year, aspirants will have to appear in the JEE-Main, to be conducted by the CBSE. If they clear this, they will have to take the JEE-Advanced, to be held by the IITs.

But a faculty member from IIT Kharagpur said he and his colleagues would oppose the plan to enlist a private firm for GATE, said the newspaper report.

“Private companies have no stake in promoting merit in admission in the IITs except monetary gains. We will oppose this proposal to take away a part of the exam from the IITs.”

Not everyone seemed to back the view, though. Former IIT Kanpur director S.G. Dhande justified the move, saying changes were required to ensure better quality in the test.

“Is the existing GATE really assessing the eligibility of a student for research? The present objective-type test is focussed on subject knowledge. We need to test the orientation and aptitude of students for research,” Dhande said.

The screening test may have questions on reasoning, basic science and language to gauge the general competence of students, while the final exam could test domain knowledge.

Dhande suggested the screening test be held online and several times a year.

But IIT Faculty Federation president K. Narasimhan indicated the last word was not out on the proposed change and that it would be discussed at several forums before being given final shape.

“The federation has not taken any view on the proposal yet. Let us see what the faculty members from each institute are saying,” the IIT Bombay teacher said.

Dheeraj Sanghi, of IIT Kanpur, appeared to favour the new system saying GATE was gradually becoming a burden on the IITs because of the increase in the number of aspirants.

“I think it is a good move. A private firm (Prometric) has been conducting the Common Admission Test (CAT) for IIMs the past few years. The GATE examination similarly can be handled by a private firm,” he said.


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