EXPLAINED| Why was the CSIR-UGC-NET exam postponed?

What is being left unsaid is that an overall probe of the NTA was one of the reasons the Education Ministry decided to be cautious because the NTA system has become “shaky.”
Students protest after NTA postpones UGC-NET examination citing unavoidable circumstances and logistic issues.
Students protest after NTA postpones UGC-NET examination citing unavoidable circumstances and logistic issues.

NEW DELHI: The National Testing Agency (NTA) announced on Friday that the Joint Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and University Grants Commission (UGC) National Eligibility Test (NET) examination scheduled for June 25 to June 27, 2024, has been postponed due to several logistical and administrative challenges.

The NTA, responsible for conducting the exams, identified the need for additional time to ensure that the examination process runs smoothly and fairly. This postponement is intended to address various coordination and preparation issues crucial for a nationwide exam of this scale.

A source in the education ministry said that they had received no reports yet of any CSIR-UGC-NET paper leakage. 

However, what is being left unsaid is that an overall probe of the NTA was one of the reasons the Education Ministry decided to be cautious because the NTA system has become “shaky.”

The source mentioned that until the Education Ministry gains a grasp and total control over how the NTA is functioning, they are wary of conducting fresh exams on a mass scale.

"We announced a committee this morning  that would look into the function of the NTA. Plus, there is the Supreme Court hearing on July 8. It’s only wise that we do not precipitate matters until we have clarity," the source said.

The NTA, apart from a dozen government officers, employs many contractual employees.

Tender bidding and awarding the tender to the lowest bid has kept away big players that have a reputation and integrity. This has also impacted the functioning of the NTA, where a tendering agency gets a quote because the lowest bidder bids 'X' amount per candidate.

This then percolates into compromising on the standards, said another source, explaining why the Education Ministry is now in flux about the NTA.

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The source said that the Education Ministry did not want any doubt on its integrity, especially after the cancellation of the UGC-NET.

The Education Ministry, and especially the NTA, are under tremendous stress to avoid a repeat of the NEET fiasco.

"The postponement of the CSIR-UGC-NET 2024 exams is a necessary step to ensure a fair and smooth examination process. The NTA's decision reflects its commitment to maintaining high standards of integrity and fairness and providing a better examination experience for all candidates," said the source.

The NTA is also taking this time to make necessary administrative adjustments. This includes ensuring that all exam centres are well-prepared and that any logistical issues are resolved. By addressing these challenges, the NTA aims to conduct the exam without any disruptions, thereby maintaining the integrity and fairness of the examination process.

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One of the primary reasons for the delay is to ensure the fair and equitable administration of the exam. This involves meticulous planning, including the preparation of exam centres, ensuring the availability of trained personnel, and the distribution of exam materials to various locations across the country. Any disruptions or shortcomings in these areas can significantly impact the examination process.

Furthermore, the postponement provides candidates with extended preparation time, which can be particularly beneficial. This extra time allows candidates to thoroughly cover the extensive syllabus and be better prepared for the exam.

The NTA aims to reduce stress and pressure on candidates by providing them with additional time to prepare, ensuring they are in the best possible state to take their exams.

The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) outlines the eligibility requirements based on age limit, educational qualifications, and nationality.

For the CSIR JRF, the age limit is 28 years, while there is no upper age limit for Lectureship. Candidates must hold an MSc, BE, Integrated BS-MS, BS four-year degree, B Pharma, BTech, or MBBS with at least 55 percent marks. The exam assesses candidates' eligibility for teaching positions in Indian universities and colleges.

Those who qualify for JRF are also eligible for Lectureship/Assistant Professor roles, provided they meet UGC's criteria. Some candidates qualify solely for Lectureship/Assistant Professor based on their test performance, and their qualifications remain valid indefinitely.

The Joint CSIR-UGC-NET Fellowship is a fixed-term award without guaranteed employment. JRF recipients receive a stipend of Rs 31,000 per month for the first two years and an annual contingent grant of Rs 20,000.

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