Delay in JEE and NEET exams will lead to 'zero year', say IIT heads

Topics NEET JEE | IIT JEE | Coronavirus

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Further delay in conducting medical and engineering entrance exams NEET and JEE will lead to a 'zero academic year' and any quick alternative to the crucial exams will dilute the quality of education and have cascading effects, according to Directors of several Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs).

Amid the chorus for postponement of the two exams in view of the rising COVID-19 cases, the IIT Directors appealed to students to trust the institutions conducting the exam.

"The pandemic has already disrupted the academic plans of many students and institutions and we don't see the virus going away anytime soon. We should not let this be a zero academic year as it might have consequences on the bright future of several students," Ajit K Chaturvedi, Director, IIT Roorkee, told PTI.

He also said students and their parents need to have faith in the system.

"The decision to conduct these exams has been taken after considering every aspect of the current situation. The government has been ensuring that all necessary arrangements are made to safeguard the health and safety of the students. Delaying the exams would have a cascading effect so we should come together in understanding its importance and support the system in conducting it seamlessly," he added.

According to Virendra Tewari, Director, IIT Kharagpur, "The exams have a global reputation for seeking excellence and are considered one of the toughest and prestigious examinations in the world. A quick alternative to these tests will certainly not be as gratifying as competing for this examination by all fair means".

He said an alternative could be misused as a precedent to dilute the entire admission process to the IIT system which may prove to be harmful for the quality of undergraduate education at the IITs. "I urge the aspirants to take it up as a challenge and show their mettle and sincerity to the world," he said.

Sarit Kumar Das, Director, IIT Ropar, who is also a member of the Joint Admission Board (JAB) of IITs, said the decision to conduct the exams in September has not been taken overnight but after due consideration.

"We have been discussing and looking at the possibilities of conducting the exam for quite some time. We have looked at the infrastructure, the safety of the students, how we can maintain the distancing and other norms and make it as safe as possible not only by discussing (amongst) ourselves but also with health experts and most importantly the conductors of the examination," he said.

Das said the public may not be aware that a lot of effort has gone into preparing to conduct the entrance exams amid the pandemic and after that experts have taken a technical decision to hold the exams in September with appropriate security measures, health norms and the same has been endorsed by the government.

"So the perception that the government has taken a decision overnight and we are just going to execute it is absolutely improper," he said, adding that nobody can predict how the situation is going to be after three months and having a "blank academic year" will be bad for both students and the institutes.

"Does anyone have an idea how the situation is going to be after three months or five months ? Even if the exam is held in September, we won't be able to start classes before the middle of November at the earliest. That itself means almost a loss of a semester. Further delay will do nothing other than loss of a year and then next year you will have two first years batches. Are our institutions ready with the infrastructure to handle such a situation?" he asked.

While the NEET is scheduled to be held on September 13, engineering entrance exam JEE Main has been planned from September 1-6. Around 9.53 lakh candidates have registered for JEE-Mains and 15.97 lakh students have registered for NEET.

These exams have already been deferred twice in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

JEE-Main was originally supposed to be held from April 7-11, but postponed to July 18-23, NEET-UG was originally scheduled for May 3, then pushed to July 26. They were postponed again and are now scheduled in September.

According to data available with the National Testing Agency (NTA), over 17 lakh students have already downloaded the admit cards for the two exams.

"There is no doubt that we are in an unprecedented health crisis due to the global pandemic and the parents' and students' concern is understandable. But we must also think about the future of our students who have been preparing for this for many years," said Sudhir K Jain, Director, IIT Gandhinagar.

"The pandemic seems to be here to stay until we find an effective vaccine. Hence, it is important that we keep moving towards our significant individual goals, one step at a time," he said.

TG Sitharam, Director, IIT Guwahati, said, "JEE exam is held multiple times in a year and students who don't appear this time can write after six months. Keeping in mind the effort put in by students who have prepared, it is critical that the exams are conducted as scheduled. Delay in holding the exams will lead to serious repercussions for the students as well to IIT's and most of the year 2020 will be washed out".



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