Ending the uncertainty over conducting the Common Entrance Test (CET) in Maharashtra, Higher and Technical Education Minister Uday Samant on Wednesday said the department was aiming to conduct the examination between October 1 and 15. He also said the dates for final-year exams were likely to be announced in the next two days. The state is also likely to decide on final-year examinations in the next two days. Samant said that Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari wants to know the views of the vice-chancellors of the University of Mumbai (MU) over conducting the examinations and hence, called a meeting with them on Thursday. After this, the state will take its decision by calling a state disaster management authority meeting. The state CET cell will conduct examinations for admission in various courses such engineering, pharmacy, agriculture, law (MHT-CET), management, architecture among others.
“Once a decision on final year exams is announced, we will announce dates for CET as well. We plan to conduct the (CET) exam between October 1 and 15,” Samant said. The exam is conducted by the state CET cell for admissions to engineering and pharmacy courses among others in the state-based colleges. The CET, earlier scheduled to be held in July and August, was cancelled owing to the rising number of Covid-19 cases. Nearly 5.5 lakh students have registered for the exam. “The state government is currently busy resolving the issue of final-year examinations for professional and non-professional courses. The decision is likely to be taken in the next two days, after which, a decision on CET will be taken. I have a received a proposal from the CET commissioner,” Samant added.
The state CET exam was first scheduled in April. Later, it was postponed to July and then deferred till further notice. The state government had postponed the exams due to the prevailing Covid-19 pandemic.On Wednesday, Samant met the Governor and briefed him about their plans for final-year examinations. The Governor was also of the view that the exams should be conducted in a way that it will not bring students under stress, Samant said. “The Governor also wants to review the issue in detail and asked for the views of the vice-chancellors before any decision is taken by the state. The report by the vice-chancellors will also be discussed in the meeting. After this, a proposal for a final decision will be placed before the state disaster management authority headed by the chief minister Uddhav Thackeray,” said Samant.
On August 31, Samant had declared to allow students to appear for final-year exams for professional and non-professional courses from home. He also said that the exams are likely to start from the first week of October and the state can seek an extension up to November 10 from the University Grants Commission (UGC) to complete the examination process. The Supreme Court (SC) last week said that students cannot be promoted without writing the final-year exams, and also upheld a July-6 directive of the UGC to hold exams by September 30. However, it has given liberty to the states to approach UGC if they wish to postpone holding the examinations beyond the September-30 deadline given the Covid-19 pandemic.
A meeting between the vice-chancellors of 13 non agricultural universities is also scheduled with the Governor on Thursday to discuss the panel report. The state had formed a panel comprising vice chancellors and education department officials to decide on the schedule and the mode of final-year exams. About the state-level entrance exams, he said that they are planning to start with MHT-CET for engineering courses in the first week of October and will conduct the rest of the entrance exams (for law, B Ed, MCA, etc) subsequently.
Meanwhile, most state varsities have already agreed to conduct the final year exams in the first week of October and also announce the result by the end of that month. While speaking to TOI, Minister Samant said that the state will further ensure that no student is forced to step out of the home during the pandemic to take the exams. The committee formed by the state government has advised that the exam would be conducted in a student-friendly mode that also includes online open-book exams with objective-based questions or even assignments. Earlier it has reported by media houses that the experts may also suggest reducing the weightage of the 100-mark paper while shrinking the exam duration to one hour. Also, as per Minister Samant, UGC has already suggested that question papers and answer sheets can be sent to students home., if there is no access to devices or connectivity.