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Haryana tightens grip on pvt varsities
By Our Correspondent
: On June 19 the Haryana government decided that all private universities would make admissions to their technical courses through Centralised entrance examinations conducted by the Haryana State Technical Counselling Society.

Similarly all admissions to professional courses in medical and allied faculties in private universities would be done Centrally by the Medical Education and Research Department, a
spokesman for the Higher Education Department said.

According to the provisions in the Haryana Private Universities Act, 2006 admissions to professional and technical courses in a private university should be made through an entrance test conducted at the state-level either by an association of the universities conducting similar courses or by an agency of the state. However, the private universities have been flouting the statutory provisions of the Act.

The spokesman said that some private universities were offering professional courses in agriculture science for which Ch. Charan Singh Haryana Agricultural University (CCSHAU), Hisar, would conduct a centralised admission test.

In addition to medical, technical and agricultural courses, private universities also offer B.Ed, Law and other professional courses. Also, the private universities would make B.Ed admissions through centralized counselling to be conducted by the state university authorized by the government.

Similarly, all admissions to law courses would be made on the basis of Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) merit.

However, private universities could conduct their own entrance examination for admission to courses out of ambit of technical, medical education, agriculture, B.Ed and law for this year only.

From the next year, all private universities would form an association of universities for conducting Centralized entrance examination for such professional courses.

The spokesman said the Vice-Chancellors of all private universities had been asked to adhere to these instructions strictly and send seat matrix in all courses of their institutions by June 25 .

They had also been asked to contact the Director-General, Technical Education; Director, Medical Education and Research; Director, Agriculture and Vice Chancellor of CCSHAU, Hisar, for the centralized admission process.



National Testing Agency moves in fast lane

By Rajiv Shukla
After four years of flips and flops the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) seems to have made some headway in the direction of the proposed National Testing Agency (NTA).

To begin with the proposed agency will unburden the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) of its excess load and hold the all India competitive examinations that are presently being conducted by the CBSE.

According to sources, the MHRD recently had a meeting with the stakeholders where it was decided to let NTA initially hold the exams that are being conducted by the CBSE and let IIT-Advance be conducted by the IIT joint admission board.  

“The ministry is in process of sending the proposal to Cabinet,” sources added.

Presenting the general budget for 2017-18 in Parliament in February, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had announced setting up of the NTA as “an autonomous and self-sustained premier testing organization” to conduct all entrance examinations for higher education institutions.

“This would free the CBSE , AICTE (All India Council for Technical Education) and other premier institutions from these administrative responsibilities (holding entrance tests) so that they can focus more on academics,” he had said.

In course of the finalisation of the proposal in consultation with the ‘stakeholders,’ however, a view emerged that the proposed NTA should initially conduct only those competitive examinations which are being held by the CBSE.

More than 4 million students appear for seven tests — CAT, JEE (Main), JEE (Advanced), GATE, CMAT, NEET, NET — conducted by the CBSE, IITs, IIMs and AICTE every year.

The proposal for a National Testing Agency was first mooted as the additional agenda item for discussion at the 61st meeting of Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) held on 2nd April 2013 at 11.00 AM. The meeting noted the proposal and desired that the proposal be taken forward in consultation with all stakeholders. Since then the proposal has seen many ups and downs till February 2017 when it was formally included in the Finance Minister's budget speech.

SC lifts stay, IITs to go ahead with counselling

By Sanjiv Dube
On July 10 the Supreme Court gave Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) a green signal to go ahead with counselling and admission.

A three-judge bench, presided over by Justice Dipak Misra, vacated its July 7 stay on the whole admission process, saying, "You can't keep the student community in anxiety."

The bench, however, directed the Centre and IIT Madras, which conducted this year's JEE Advanced, to explain at the next hearing on October 10 how they planned to avoid bloomers in the question papers in future. It asked them to develop a mechanism to avoid incorrect questions in the entrance examination, held for admission to IITs, NITs and others.

The court noted that all 33,307 students had already taken admission, including 10,987 in IITs.

The court rejected a plea by senior advocates Kapil Sibal and Sanjay Hegde, appearing for some students, for preparation of fresh list of successful candidates as 18 bonus marks were awarded to all, affecting their ranks.

The bench said its 2005 judgement in the Gurunanak Dev University case would not apply to the present case as only 10,000 students were involved there. There were 1.56 lakh students who have taken the present examination.

On careful study of the Gurunanak Dev University case verdict, it is also revealed that there was no negative marking there, while in the present case there was negative marking for wrong questions attempted by the students, the court said.

Attorney General K K Venugopal submitted that such a situation would be avoided in future where the students were to be awarded bonus marks across the board for incorrect questions.

A counsel, appearing for the IITs, submitted that an expert body of 33 members from various institutes met twice and decided that award of bonus marks to the students across the board was the only solution to the problem.

Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Union government, submitted that the apex court should allow the admission process to continue.

The court, which lifted its stay on the counselling, said it would consider the matter to examine the mechanism to ensure that no incorrect questions were allowed in the examination papers.

U-turn by MHRD, engg entrance test put on hold

By Rajiv Shukla
Just 80 days after it told the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) to hold a NEET-type all-India test for admission to undergraduate engineering and architecture courses, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) took a U-turn on April 28 and directed the AICTE to put the process on hold.

A senior official of the AICTE told this correspondent : “The common entrance test has been put on hold in view of differences with some states."

According to information available the move has been shelved  particularly because of West Bengal's dogged resistance and the delicate political relations with West Bengal.

“While some states have their own entrance tests, some take the Class-12 marks as the criterion for admission,” the AICTE official said referring to Bengal and Tamil Nadu.

“Till these differences are ironed out and the Centre and states brought on the same page, we have decided to put on hold a common entrance test”, he said.

The Central Board of Secondary Education conducts the Joint Entrance Examination-Mains for admission to engineering courses. A number of states conduct their own tests, while some colleges grant admission based on marks. Several private colleges also have their own entrance examinations.

The directive

It may be recalled that the AICTE had in mid February this year decided to hold an all-India test for admission to the undergraduate engineering and architecture courses from 2018 following a directive to it from the MHRD on February 10.

The directive from the MHRD had come after it had overruled objections from Bengal and Tamil Nadu and told the AICTE to go ahead with an all-India engineering admission exam to admit students to eight lakh B.Tech seats across 3,400 colleges in the country.  

The states were, however, given the leeway to admit students to their engineering colleges solely on the basis of the merit in the all-India exam or to give some weightage to their board marks too.

This would have been the third incarnation of the all-India engineering admission test the first being AIEEE and the second being the JEE (Mains).


The all-India engineering admission test was first introduced in 2002 when Dr Murli Manohar Joshi was the union HRD minister. Named All India Engineering Entrance Examination (AIEEE), the Central Board of Secondary Education was made the nodal body to conduct the test. All private and government engineering colleges in the country were given option to pick students from the merit list of the exam, including the National Institutes of Technology (NITs). The AIEEE, the first avatar of the pan-India exam lasted 10 years and was superseded by what was called Joint Entrance Examination (Main) in 2013.

Under the JEE (Main), being conducted by the CBSE, the states are allowed to hold their own admission tests or to admit students on the basis of their board scores. The JEE (Main) has survived for five years.

Bengal, TN exceptions

About 90 engineering colleges in Bengal admit some 21,000 undergraduate students on the basis of their performance in the West Bengal Joint Entrance Examination. Bengal government argued that its state-level exam was conducted very well and did not need to be replaced by a national-level test.

Similarly the undergraduate engineering students in Tamil Nadu are admitted on the basis of their Class XII board marks. The state's 533 undergraduate engineering colleges have 1.6 lakh seats. The Tamil Nadu government had contended that the state board's Class XII science syllabus was not on a par with that taught by the Central Board of Secondary Education.

Tamil Nadu also expressed apprehensions that its reservation volumes - different from the national quota break-up - could be affected if admissions were regulated by a national entrance exam.

SC damns govt for NEET order but refuses to stay

By Sanjiv Dube
On July 14 the three judge Supreme Court bench hearing the
National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) case criticised the NEET ordinance calling it "disturbing, unwarranted and not proper" but refused to stay it in the interest of the students.

The bench, comprising Justice Shiva Kirti Singh, Justice A R Dave and Justice Adarsh K Goel said that staying the ordinance at this stage would trigger chaos as lakhs of students across 17 States have already written exams in their respective States.

The ordinance, called the Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Ordinance 2016 issued by the government on May 24, 2016 allowed States to conduct their own common entrance exams for admission to MBBS and BDS seats in government colleges despite the Supreme Court order on May 9, 2016 that only NEET would prevail.

"Prime facie, we found that the validity of the ordinance is in doubt. Since 50% of the states (17) had already held their examinations, we do not grant any relief," the bench said.

The court said it favoured a single common entrance test for all medical colleges in order to bring uniformity in the examination in the interest of students and for maintaining a minimum standard.

In a strong comment on medical colleges admitting students after taking money, Justice Dave said, "What to talk about the middle class. It is even impossible for upper middle class candidates to get admission in medical colleges. Think of it..if you and I have to be treated by a doctor who paid Rs 50 lakh to Rs 1 crore for admission."

NGO Sankalp Charitable Trust and Anand Rai, who claimed to be Madhya Pradesh's Vyapam scam whistleblower, sought a stay on the May 24 ordinance that allowed states to conduct their own exams for academic session 2016-17.

Opposing the prayer Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi submitted that the NEET was mooted in the Medical Council of India regulations as part of the subordinate legislation and the government had power to regulate it. Countering petitioner's plea, he said it would affect lakhs of students, if the ordinance was stayed.

May 9 order was passed despite objections from several States and private medical colleges that they have their own exams and many are underway or about to begin. The court simply had asked then to fall in line.

Expressing its displeasure the bench said : “Your move to bring this ordinance despite our order was not proper. It was unwarranted. It should not have happened. When the court said ‘no’ to State exams, you disregard us and issued an ordinance for State exams... Did you not think about the confusion it would cause to the children? After all these are our children,” Justice Dave told Attorney-General.

Mr. Rohatgi said that the ordinance was not meant as an affront to the Supreme Court’s authority. He said the ordinance merely opened an “option” for States to either opt for NEET or conduct their exams exclusively for State seats for the current academic year.

NEET is back, SC bench scraps earlier judgement

By Rajiv Shukla
In a landmark move the Supreme Court of India on April 11 recalled its one of the most controversial judgements -- NEET case judgement -- and ordered that "the case be heard afresh".

The case, called National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) case was delivered on July 18, 2013 by the Chief Justice of India Altamas Kabir a dayAltamash Kabir before he was to retire, giving ample relief to private medical colleges. Some  private medical colleges had challenged the Medical Council of India and Dental Council of India regulations on admissions to medical and dental college -- and the relief allowed them to have their way in the matter of admissions.

With the recall of the judgement status quo ante has been restored and the MCI has been told to organise a combined all-India admission test for private and government medical colleges.

However, the MCI vice-chairman Dr C V Bhirmanandham has expressed his inability to hold the all-India test this year because of paucity of time and this may allow the private players to have their way this year as well.

Hearing the review petitions on April 11 the Constitution bench of the Supreme Court headed by Justice A R Dave and comprising Justices A K Sikri, R K Agrawal, A K Goel and R Banumathi recalled the judgment dated July 18, 2013 which had quashed NEET. It said the “majority verdict“ delivered by then Chief Justice Altamas Kabir did not consider an earlier SC judgment that was binding on the bench, nor had he consulted other members of his bench.

Incidentally Justice A R Dave, who headed the 5-judge Constitution bench that recalled the earlier order had given a dissenting verdict in the NEET case. In his April 11 order he specified that he was not consulted by the then CJI Altamas Kabir.

The April 11 order comes just a month before separate entrance tests are to be held for government and private medical colleges, putting lakhs of students in confusion. There are over 400 medical colleges in the country and lakhs of students sit for admission tests for over 52,000 MBBS seats. Since 2013, state governments and private colleges have conducted separate examinations for these.

Monday's order leaves Medical Council of India with the onerous task of conducting the NEET at a short notice as students have already filled in forms for several entrance tests.

Immediately after judgment reviving the NEET was pronounced in open court, stunned lawyers appearing for private colleges, pleaded that the SC clarify the consequences. The bench replied that “natural consequence“ was that NEET comes into force. It said the court would give a fresh hearing on constitutional validity of NEET but in the meantime, the exam will be restored. The lawyers then pleaded that the MCI's notification to bring NEET back be stayed till its validity was decided afresh and said that in 2013, too, an interim stay was given. The bench, however, rejected the plea saying the interim order was only for one academic session and it could not continue.

“After giving our thoughtful and due consideration, we are of the view that the judgment delivered in Christian Medical College needs reconsideration,“ the bench said.

Recalling earlier order the Constitution bench allowed review petitions by the Union government and the Medical Council of India (MCI) against the July 18, 2013, verdict and restored the NEET 2011 notification.

“The NEET regulations are restored and MCI can conduct the examinations pending the fresh judgement,” the order said.

According to the 2011 notification, the CBSE was to conduct the tests for admission to MBBS and BDS courses and the National Board of Examination for the PG programmes.

The 2013 verdict

The 2013 verdict had created a buzz in the apex court corridors as an advocate had posted the outcome on a social networking site in advance. However, Justice Kabir had reportedly said he was not aware of the leak of the judgment.

While Justice Vikramjit Sen (since retired) had shared the views and findings of Justice Kabir against the NEET, Justice Dave had in his dissenting verdict said that the three judges "had no discussion on the subject due to paucity of time". Justice Dave had stressed that this was not the normal practice.

Justice Dave had written in 2013 that “one of the main considerations of having one common entrance test conducted by the Medical Council of India is to check the malaise of money-making business in the admission process by selling their seats for crores, which has been going on for the last so many years in private colleges.”

The Christian Medical College, Vellore; the States of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu; several associations of private medical colleges; DD Medical College and DD Hospital, Tamil Nadu; and various private medical colleges had filed petitions in High Courts and obtained an interim stay on the applicability of the NEET on them. On the MCI’s petitions, these cases were transferred to the Supreme Court.

Misra panel suggests key changes in JEE main

By Our Correspondent
An expert committee of the Union HRD Ministry has suggested an online aptitude test, held more than once a year, by a National Testing Service (NTS), instead of the current JEE Main conducted by the CBSE, a ministry announcement said on November 7.Prof Ashok Misra

Those who qualify the NTS aptitude test will be eligible to write the JEE. Admission to both IITs and NITs will be based on the results in the JEE, the ministry said.

The changes, according to the ministry, will come into effect only from 2017 or 2018 and till then the existing system will continue, allowing 40 per cent weightage for 12th marks. However, instead of 1.5 lakh students, now two lakh will qualify from JEE Main for JEE Advanced.

"The government has decided to place the recommendations of the report in the public domain for widespread consultation with the stakeholders. Since this process would take some time, it was decided that the JEE 2016 shall be conducted in the same manner as in 2015," it said.

The ministry had appointed a committee led by IIT Roorkee chairman Prof. Ashok Misra to suggest changes to the IITs and NIT admission system. It submitted its report to the MHRD on November 5 suggesting setting up of NTS by early 2016 to conduct an Aptitude Test on the lines of SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) conducted in the US.

"The aptitude test may be offered two or more times in a year and would be an online test. The testing shall test the scientific thinking and cannot be gamed through coaching. Based on this performance, about 4 lakh candidates shall be shortlisted for taking the JEE," the panel suggested. "The JEE itself will be on the lines of the current JEE (Advanced) ," it added.

The recommendations:

1. Major changes in the structure of JEE be effected from 2017 onwards:

• A National Testing Service shall be set up by early 2016, mandated to conduct an Aptitude Test, which should test the scientific aptitude and innovative thinking ability. The Aptitude test may be offered 2 or more times in a year and would be an online test. The testing shall test the scientific thinking and cannot be gamed through coaching.

• Based on this performance, about 4 lakh candidates shall be short-listed for taking the JEE.

• The JEE itself will be on the lines of the current JEE (Advanced) and designed to test the knowledge in Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics; and will be conducted by the IITs.

• From this, ranks will be issued to 40,000+ students who can seek admission in IITs and NITs based on a common counselling.

• The IITs be requested to set up a system for developing mock JEE examinations which will help students prepare for the JEE significantly and wean them away from the coaching industry. The possibility of using the MOOCS platform can also be explored.

• MHRD may take measures for the improvement of school education and the method of examination of the Boards, so that students with the Science aptitude are well prepared in the concepts by the time they reach 12th grade, without dependence on coaching institutions.

2. Till such time, that is for 2016 and 2017, the practice of two tier JEE examination shall be continued.

• The top 200,000 students from JEE (Main) shall be allowed to appear in JEE (Advanced).

• More than 40,000 ranks will be issued in JEE (Advanced) for developing a better system for selection of candidates.

• Joint counselling for IITs and NITs shall be continued as was done last year.

3. Board marks shall not to be counted for giving rankings this year for NITs, CFTIs etc.

The Government has decided to place the recommendations of the Report in the public domain for widespread consultation with the stakeholders.

Since this process would take some time, it was decided that the JEE 2016 shall be conducted in the same manner as 2015, with an enhanced intake from 1.5 lakh to two lakh into the JEE (Advanced) stage. The weightage given to Board marks in JEE (Main) would continue for the year 2016.


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