NEW DELHI: Citing technical reasons for last-minute exam centre change, the head of the National Testing Agency (NTA), an autonomous agency set up to conduct entrance exams for higher education institutions, said only genuine candidates who missed taking the CUET exam on Friday, will be considered to take it in the second phase, slated for August.
“Not all students, who missed taking the CUET exam today, will be allowed to retake it. Each case will be examined. It will depend. If there are some genuine cases, we will consider their case. We assure fairness in our decision,” NTA Director General Vineet Joshi told.
Only those candidates who had reached their old exam centre before the gate closure time will be considered for taking the Common University Entrance Test (CUET) UG 2022 in August, he added.
He also said that as a standard protocol, they keep vehicles in the old examination centre to ferry students to the new exam venues. Also, people are deployed at each examination centre to guide students.
The gate closing time is 8.30 am – in the morning shift – so that those who reached before that would be transported – if they don’t have any means to commute – to the new exam centre, he said.
Despite complaints of confusion about last-minute exam centre change, and students commuting long-distance to reach changed exam centre venues on the first day of CUET, due to which they missed taking it, Joshi said they hadn’t received any complaints from any students or parents.
“But if we receive any complaints, we will examine them. Anybody might say anything, so it needs to be explored.”
“The day one of phase 1 of CUET went off well,” he added.
Joshi said that exams were cancelled only in two exam centres in New Jalpaiguri and Pathankot due to technical reasons.
“It was a technical reason due to which the exam was cancelled. All the 197 candidates will now be taking the exam when the second phase will begin on August 4,” he said.
Students in the national capital huffed and puffed their way to exam centres battling anxiousness and trepidation as the debut edition of Common University Entrance Test kicked off Friday amid complaints of last-minute change of exam centres, exhausting commute, and lengthy question papers.
Some students, stressed already over taking the first-ever CUET, missed the paper due to a sudden change in the exam centre.
The National Testing Agency (NTA) officials have assured they will be given a second chance to realise their dream of studying in a central university.
The exam will transform the way undergraduate admissions are conducted in the country, especially at popular central universities like Delhi University where the Class 12 result was a deciding factor so far.
What was, however, a relief for the students was that the difficulty level of the exam was not high, though some question were lengthy.
Of the many who could not appear for the exam was 18-year-old Aanchal.
Standing outside the examination centre at the DU’s North Campus, she said her exam centre was earlier in Dwarka but when she reached there, she was disallowed entry.
“I was informed that my centre has been changed. I panicked and did not know what to do. After a two-hour journey when we finally reached the North Campus, they told us that the time for entering the exam centre has passed,” she said.
On whether she was informed about the change of centre beforehand, Aanchal replied, “I checked my mail only after I was informed that this is not my centre. I would have checked it earlier had I known that the centre would be changed.”
The same was the case with Ritika who reached the Netaji Subhas University of Technology (NSUT) as was mentioned in her admit card.
However, on reaching there she was informed that her new exam centre was the North Campus.
The travel time between NDUT and North Campus is around two hours.
“I rushed to North Campus but was not allowed entry because the time was over. This is wrong and our whole future hangs in balance,” she said.
Many students, however, were able to reach their examination centre on time as well despite the last-minute change.
“My brother, who is appearing for CUET, was assigned a centre in Dwarka. But it was changed at the last minute to Delhi University. We checked the email last night and were able to reach here,” said Sanchit outside the exam centre.
While the morning scenes were of students anxiously going over their notes and praying to God, the after-exam scenes showed relieved students coming out of the centres with smiling faces.
“We have been worried about our wards for several days as we also did not know what kind of exam will come. Moreover, there was a lot of confusion around the examination. Admit cards too came very late. Finally, we can take rest,” Praveen Kumar, whose son Kamal appeared for CUET.
Kamal took three tests — physical education, political science and general test.
“I felt the general test was a little tough because we have not done it before. But the other two exams were pretty easy. All came from what we had studied in Class 11 and 12,” he said.
The examinees also rued about the fact that the exam centres were located quite far away from their homes and felt that the admit cads should have been issued much before so that they would have been mentally prepared for the long commute.
“I feel the arrangement could have been better. The admit card could have been made available a few days ahead of the exam and the centre should have been allocated near to the students’ homes. The weather is very hot. There is no metro connectivity to the place where I live. So, we took an auto till the bus stand and then boarded a bus. By the time I reached the examination, I was drenched in the sweat,” said Prameela, who came to the centre from Sarita Vihar.
While mental health experts advised students, who missed their exam owing to last-minute change of examination centres, to remain positive and patient, academic experts maintained that the University Grants Commission (UGC) should not have rushed into implementing the CUET without adequate preparation.
With 14.9 lakh registrations, the CUET is being conducted in two phases.
It is the second largest entrance exam in the country after the medical entrance exam NEET-UG.
While the Phase 1 is being held in July, Phase 2 is scheduled to be held in August.
Candidates who have opted for Physics, Chemistry or Biology have been assigned Phase 2 of the CUET exam, given that NEET (UG) – 2022 for admissions to MBBS and BDS colleges will be held on July 17.
NEET-UG is the biggest entrance test in India with an average of 18 lakh registrations.
UGC chief M Jagadesh Kumar had said in March that CUET scores, and not Class 12 marks, will determine the admission to 45 central universities which can fix their minimum eligibility criteria.