Jadavpur varsity does volte face, decides to scrap admission tests

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Kolkata, July 4 (IANS) In a volte face, apparently under pressure from the West Bengal government, Jadavpur University authorities on Wednesday decided to do away with the decades-old system of holding entrance tests for admission to six under-graduate courses, triggering protests from students and current and former teachers.

A week earlier, the varsity’s Executive Council had declared that admission tests would be held for six departments of the humanities stream – comparative literature, history, political science, philosophy, English and Bengali.

But it had also decided that for preparing the merit list, 50 per cent weightage would be given to the aggregate marks obtained by the students in the previous board examination and the remaining on the result of the admission test.

However, on Wednesday, the EC in a resolution withdrew the notification issued earlier for admission tests and said “under-graduate admission in arts should be conducted on the basis of marks obtained in the last board examination alone, without conducting any written admission test”.

It, however, said the decision has been taken for the coming academic year only “in order to address the impasse created by legal questions regarding the process, and not to inconvenience the thousands of applicants awaiting certainty regarding the admission process”.

A day after the university witnessed an uproar following the decision to take the services of “external experts” in preparing one of the two sets of question papers for the admission tests, and the opinion of the Advocate General that the Board of Studies has no role to play in the admission process, the resolution said: “This decision (to do away with admission tests) is also taken to address the sentiments of the teachers, who have seen the legal questions raised about their involvement in the admission process in negative terms.”

The EC reposed “full faith in the teaching community and looks forward to their help, cooperation and guidance in all affairs of the university”.

At the same time, the authorities declared that students have no role to play “in the determination of the admission process” and that “such a role cannot be legally tenable”.

The EC empowered the admission committee of the faculty of Arts to determine the modalities of the admission on the basis of marks, “according to the requirement of different subjects”.

The latest EC decision came against the backdrop of state Education Minister Partha Chatterjee, on more than one occasion, speaking out against the JU holding admission tests for undergraduate courses in some subjects, while admitting students on the basis of plus two results in some other courses.

“What I have said earlier, you should not have two standards – one part on the basis of merit, and the other section will have merit and admission. This is something I object to,” the minister said.

In this case, the minister cited the admission process in Presidency University, which depends solely on its own admission tests.

“I am not going to ask them (universities) which model is suitable for them. Let them do.”

The latest EC decision drew the hackles of both students and academics.

A large number of slogan-shouting students began an impromptu sit-in demonstration in front of Aurobindo Bhavan, the university’s administrative headquarters, and confined the Vice Chancellor to his room.

Jadavpur University Students’ Association Secretary Nilanjana Gupta expressed anguish over the EC not paying any heed to the sentiments of the teachers.

Former JU professor Ananda Deb Mukherjee said the decision to move away from admission tests would “hit hard” the reputation and high standards of the university, “reputed worldwide as a centre of excellence”.

“For decades, we were holding the admission tests. Now, why this decision has been taken to cancel the time tested process, only the authorities can say. Never before, had any question been raised about the transparency of the admission tests. I will only say, this will greatly damage the university”.

–IANS

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