NEW DELHI: Paru, 18, travelled around 100 km to reach his CUET-UG exam centre in Meerut from Delhi. Two days later, he drove another 45 km to Noida from his Delhi house to take the next exam.
Guddu Kumar said his sister had to travel 400 km from Amritsar to Delhi.
These are not isolated cases of students travelling long distances for the Common University Entrance Test (CUET-UG), which started on May 21. Many complained and took to social media about getting exam centres far away from their homes, sometimes outside the city.
Mumbai’s Ridhee said her centre was not even in Maharashtra. She wrote her exam in Ahmedabad. Sai Sudhamshu from Hyderabad was luckier; his exam centre for the May 28 test is only an hour away from his house.
Speaking with this paper, Delhi boy Paru said, “I was very nervous, not so much about the exam, but about reaching the centre on time. There was heavy traffic on the way. I managed to reach an hour before the exam began." He added that his father, who had accompanied him, had a worse time.
“There were no arrangements for parents or guardians outside the Meerut or Noida centres. He had to make his own arrangements and sat in the car till my exam got over, with the air-conditioner on, as it was so hot in the afternoon,” said Paru, who took the CUET-UG exam on May 22 and 24 in the third shift (3.30 to 6.30 pm).
Some of the students he interacted with told him they were coming from Delhi on their scooters, and many complained about feeling ill and dizzy because of travelling in the heat.
Though, so far no significant problems have been reported by the University Grants Commission (UGC) and National Testing Agency (NTA) in comparison to the maiden CUET-UG exam, which was marred with technical glitches, cancellations, and students missing their exams because of long-distance travel to reach far-off centres.
When asked about the travel woes of students and no arrangements for parents, UGC Chairman Prof. M. Jagadesh Kumar said, “We have now ensured that students do not have to travel long distances.”
Kumar also said that “they are making all possible efforts to address these issues.”
Citing the example of Jammu and Kashmir, Kumar said all students are allotted centres within J&K and their exam will start on the 26th. As many as 87,309 are scheduled to take the exam in the UT.
On parents facing problems at the centre while waiting for their wards, Kumar said in many centres, water and snacks are arranged for them. “In some centres, even buses were arranged to transport students and parents,” he added.
Faizan Peer, general secretary of communication, Jammu and Kashmir Students Association, who took up the problems of the students and wrote to Lt Governor Manoj Sinha and Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, said they were bombarded with Whatsapp messages and calls from aggrieved students.
“The exams were deferred only after we took up the matter and raised it with the authorities. Now, examination centres are being arranged here in Kashmir only,” he told this paper. Exams were also deferred in riot-hit Manipur on May 29.
However, it was not just travelling far distances for the exams that agitated students. Many said they were not allowed into the centre as they were not carrying Aadhar cards, despite being told that any identity card would work, to the biometric and computer malfunction.
Tanvi, carrying her passport as identity proof, said she had to ask her mother to come from Dwarka to Rohtak Road – 21 km - to provide her Aadhar card as she was refused to enter.
“They reached the examination hall two-three minutes before the exam was to start. It was a very anxious moment for them,” she said.
The CUET-UG has been scheduled from May 21 to June 6 for 14.99 lakh candidates who have opted for 64.35 lakh test papers. This year's number of applications increased by 41 per cent from last year's debut edition.