Rohan Prem Sagar, Trustee & Board of Governors, Dayananda Sagar University

After completing his bachelor’s degree in International Business from George Washington University, Washington DC, Rohan Prem Sagar joined as a Director at Dayananda Sagar Institutions in the same year and became the Joint Secretary of the Institution in the year 2019. He is currently a Trustee and a part of the Board of Governors at Dayananda Sagar University, Bengaluru. Prior to this, Mr. Sagar has also worked as an Executive Director and Director with Sagar Hospitals and DERBI Foundation where he executed his excellent leadership, project management and strategic planning skills. He has extensive knowledge in the healthcare and education space.

 

With the announcement of CUCET, the University Grants Commission of India (UGC) redesigned the version of CUET – CUCET. Under the Ministry of Education, The Common University Entrance Test (CUET) will now provide a common platform and equal opportunities to candidates across the country, especially those from outlying areas, and aid to form better connections with the Universities.

Through the National Testing Agency (NTA), the Common Entrance Test (CET) is going to be conducted for graduation and post-graduation courses in central universities for the academic year 2022 – 2023 in 13 different languages. For 45 central universities, the Central Universities Common Entrance Test has been made mandatory, allowing students to apply and be admitted to any Central University regardless of their HSC grades.

CETs will be used to measure conceptual comprehension and capacity to apply knowledge, according to the NEP 2020. Because of the versatility of the NTA testing services, most institutions will be able to use these CETs, rather than hundreds of colleges creating their own entry tests.

As every coin has two sides, there are emerging opportunities for students to acquire along with few additional incorporations that can attune the new implementation far more holistically.

Let’s see the opportunities first –

CUET is a well-intentioned initiative that is likely to yield some benefits. A computer-based exam with multiple-choice questions that are intended to bring objectivity to the admissions process in higher education institutions, reduces the burden on students and alleviates their anxiety over soaring cut-offs which have even reached 100% at some institutions in recent years.

Since school-leaving board assessments no longer have any weight, numerous boards may be less likely to award unrealistically inflated marks. Students from examination boards with a ‘supposedly simpler’ syllabus or ‘generous’ scoring criteria, on the other hand, will no longer have an edge over students from other boards, resulting in a leveled field to some extent and equal and fair opportunity platform to the diverse student communities. By standardizing the enrollment and selection criteria across universities, a common test would provide a single-window opportunity and students would be less burdened with several tests and applications. The CUET’s proposed system makes for domain-specific aptitude screening and enables students to switch streams after high school which will play a crucial role in their long term skill development and real time skill application.

Moving on to the adoptions that can further help the Entrance tests to make it more efficient and student friendly can be the following –

Creating a Cohesive Entrance Test & School Curriculum Module

Given its design, which includes portions on general awareness and logical reasoning that are not generally taught as part of the school curriculum, the reliance on tuition and coaching to ace this entrance exam is anticipated to increase. Coaching centers are apparently already receiving inquiries and student enrollment for CUET preparation. Simply switching from one elevated exam (boards) to another (a common entry test) may not be enough to relieve student stress. The widespread adoption of coaching culture in other nations with similar entrance-test-based admissions systems demonstrates that there is no simple answer to this problem. However, Incorporating and matching the school curriculum with the entrance exam material could lessen reliance on private teaching and safeguard school education at the same time. General knowledge, logical thinking, and test-taking proficiency modules in the academic curriculum will assist to elevate the overall skill sets and problem solving capacity amongst students.

Focus on the Extra Curriculum for overall development

The introduction of the CUET may have some contradiction with classroom education but the shift in emphasis to an entrance exam can help in nurturing the soft qualities like leadership, collaboration and compassion with higher concentration on extracurricular activities at the school level. A shift in focus towards the extra curriculum will lessen the burden of scoring unrealistically high in the board examinations and reduce the component of stress and increase the overall mental wellbeing of the students. Students will now have more time to spare to participate in non-academic and extracurricular activities, which otherwise they would have sacrificed for studying for the board evaluation.

Inclusion of an Exercises with a Deeper Comprehension of Concepts

A multiple-choice questionnaire (MCQ)-based assessment would not be able to aptly capture the analytical reasoning and writing ability, which is necessary for success in an undergraduate degree, especially in the social sciences and liberal arts. Furthermore, doing well on MCQ may end up as more of a learning exercise in methods than a deeper comprehension of concepts. This can be tackled by inviting students to write an essay to assess their analytical ability. More significantly, rather than mechanical memorization of facts and textbook definitions, the MCQs should be designed to emphasize conceptual comprehension and implementation.

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