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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.


Revised Common Law Admission Test results out

NEW DELHI: The revised results of the Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) were announced by its Secretariat on June 6, six days after it withheld the previous one due to some “technical discrepancies” which needed to be rectified.

The results were made available to the individual ‘login accounts’ of the candidates after mismatch in the barcode stickers pasted on some of the OMR sheets were “rectified and their scores were revised”.

“A massive exercise was undertaken to rectify the errors since mismatch in the barcode stickers was discovered in the OMR (Optical Mark Recognition) sheets of some of the candidates.

There should not be any grievance now as all the OMR sheets were thoroughly checked for any discrepancy,” sources in the Gujarat National Law University, which conducted the examination, said.

The CLAT Secretariat has uploaded OMR sheets along with the model answer key of their booklet series in each of the candidate’s account.

“Every candidate can have alook at their OMR sheet by logging into their account and contact the CLAT Secretariat if they have any grievance,” sources added. The social media, however, was buzzing with complaints as many students who took the test expressed dissatisfaction with the results. Many students claimed that they were unable to access their OMR

While the Gujarat National Law University’s website appeared to be crashed, the CLAT Secretariat could not be contacted despite repeated attempts. Sources said that CLAT Secretariat is inclined to allow interested candidates to physically verify their OMR answer sheets.

However, the modality for the same was not immediately known. There was also no clarity on when the counselling would begin.

A mismatch in the barcode sticker pasted on the OMR sheets was discovered by the CLAT Secretariat in some cases when some candidates expressed doubts over their scores after results were announced on May 31.

The CLAT Secretariat, which immediately withdrew the results, citing technical discrepancies, later came out with a statement saying a revised results will soon be announced.

The all India entrance test is conducted on rotation basis by 14 law universities including one located in Bangalore for admissions to their undergraduate and post-graduate degree programmes.

Affixing of barcode stickers on OMR sheets were introduced this year to ensure “integrity and confidentiality”. More than 30,000 candidates took the test conducted on May 11.

Results withheld

Earlier the result that was declared late on May 31, wee withheld till further order.

“Due to some technical discrepancies, the CLAT 2014 results declared on May 31 stand withheld till further intimation and guidelines on the admission process,” said a notification on the official CLAT website. At the same time, students have also been advised to fill in their “login accounts regularly so that they can fill-in the preferences of the NLUs (National Law Universities) at an appropriate time and also get the updated information.” Although students were able to access their results from 8 pm on May 31, many of them were of the opinion that there were a number of discrepancies in their results. It was not until the next day, June 1, that the notification was put up on the website.

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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