CHENNAI: With controversy around the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) for medicine still raging, the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) is already planning NEET for engineering courses.
AICTE Chairperson Anil Sahasrabudhe talks to Express about the common qualifier entrance test for engineering.
Is a common entrance test for engineering likely to be a reality soon?
The common entrance test for engineering has been kept on hold for almost one-and-a-half years since we first announced it. There are a couple of reasons for it: the State Board curriculum was not up to the mark of CBSE curriculum and they (States) had fears that students of their States will not able to perform better than CBSE students. The consultations are on. There is no deadline yet. We will continue to have dialogue and come up with a decision soon.
Will the States be allowed to retain their seats, if the exam is brought in?
We’ve been trying to convince them that no one is taking away the seats of State. So the reservations and the domicile requirements will continue to be there. There won’t be national-level seats, which States will have to newly sacrifice. Outside students will not get any State quota seat. They can get the management quota seat. The fear around this topic is unfounded.
Would there be a qualifying score or cut-off like NEET or will colleges be able to decide that for themselves?
Naturally. There would be a qualifying score. That’s why they (States) are all afraid. If they do not get the qualifying mark, they will not be getting admissions and already seats are vacant. What will happen (to colleges)? Within the State’s 12th standard examination marks, someone will have to get 95 marks to get a seat. But they can get the same seat with just 70 in common national-level government exam.
The fundamental problem with NEET is that it has become a singular entry point for people who wanted to become a doctor. Isn’t that the case with this test too? Wouldn’t that demotivate students to do engineering?
Those who are interested in engineering will have to prepare. Most States already have State-level entrance exams. There are states which use JEE results and others hold their own test. But people will start competing and perform better. The qualifying marks need not be necessarily very high, they can be kept low. Common exams will help some of the bright students compete in other exams as well. That is a plus point in this whole process.
Who will conduct the tests? Will it be the Central government or an independent body?
The new body, National Testing Agency, will conduct all competitive exams across the country.
Will IIT, NIT, IISc, etc. also use this common entrance test? Shouldn’t there be different entrance tests for science and engineering to judge students’ aptitude?
Yes. This would be the first level of screening. If they also qualify in second advanced test, they will get into IIT. This exam is enough for NIT and other Central universities. This test will be common for science and engineering. It depends on the students where they want to apply. We still haven’t graduated enough to test their attitude and aptitude to these subjects. Only after they go to engineering courses their applied knowledge will develop.
What is the next step?
So the States have said that they will tweak the curriculum so that students can prepare themselves to compete. We can do it, (but) not immediately, they said. We are also considering the limitations we observed after NEET and planning how to deal with the shortcomings.