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‘No show by officials, software not installed’: Centres hit by CUET cancellation blame NTA

New Delhi: The second phase of the Common University Entrance Exam (CUET) for undergraduate admissions has been riddled with glitches, resulting in the test being cancelled at hundreds of centres across the country and students being turned away.

The National Testing Agency (NTA) — the body that’s conducting the test — has alleged that some centres failed to comply with protocols. But representatives of some centres where CUET was cancelled to have put the blame on the NTA.

The first phase of the CUET was conducted between 15 and 20 July, and the second phase began last Thursday (4 August). The exams were to be held in two shifts, one in the morning and another in the evening. Last Thursday, the first shift of the exam was cancelled at 29 centres across 17 states, while the second shift was scrapped at 489 centres. On Friday, the exam was cancelled at 50 centres.

Anticipating a similar situation Saturday, the agency further cancelled the CUET-UG for that day at 53 centres. The students were informed about this Friday night. According to University Grants Commission (UGC) chairman M. Jagadesh Kumar, the exam was held at 347 centres across the country Saturday.

The NTA said in a press statement last week that some centres “failed to comply with laid down protocols” and also warned that “any incidence of non-compliance/ sabotage/ ignorance will be viewed very seriously and strict action will be taken against those centres to ensure smooth conduct of examinations in future”. 

Kumar, too, said Sunday that there were reports of sabotage from certain centres, due to which the entrance exams had to be cancelled and postponed.

However, representatives ThePrint spoke to blamed the CUET cancellations on the NTA. Some alleged that the NTA personnel did not turn up to install the exam software, while others claimed that officials who were supposed to conduct the test did not turn up.

Contacted by ThePrint, NTA director general Dr Vineet Joshi said: “We are examining each and every case individually. Action will be taken in accordance with the issue.”

The CUET is meant for admission to undergraduate courses across the country in many central, states and deemed to be universities. According to the official CUET website, the exam is being conducted at 489 centres spread across around 259 cities in India and 9 cities abroad. 

A total of 44 central universities, 12 state universities, 11 deemed to be universities, and 19 private universities applied to appear in the first edition of CUET-UG for the academic session of 2022-23. Approximately 14.9 lakh candidates — 8.1 lakh in the first phase and 6.80 lakh in the second — are supposed to take the exam this year. They have applied across 90 universities.

Also Read: Phase one of CUET concludes — Nearly 2 lakh students take the entrance test, maximum from UP

‘NTA officials did not finish their tasks properly’

A member of staff at the Hindustan Institute of Technology and Management (HITM), Ambala — one of the centres where the CUET was cancelled on 4 August — claimed that the examination software was not installed on time and the officials who were supposed to conduct the exam never turned up.

“The NTA staff were supposed to come to our institute at 3 pm Wednesday (a day before the exam). Their task was to give a demo, install the server software and hold a mock exam. The official turned up at 8 pm. We had to send our staff to pick up the server from 30 km away. The installation process went on till 12 am. The next day, the officials who were supposed to conduct the exam did not turn up,” the member of staff told ThePrint.

The staffer further said that if “the NTA officials did not finish their tasks properly, the centres should not have to fear a penalty”, adding: “We had been instructed by our parent regulatory body (All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE)) to conduct the exam. We are doing our best and following its instructions. We set up the lab as the centre, shifted our classes to other buildings to provide a functional space. 

According to the staffer, HITM was informed that the Thursday exam had been cancelled due to lack of manpower, and the institute is yet to be intimated about the revised exam date.

Something similar happened at the New Era Online Test Service centre in Ghitorni, New Delhi. Nokesh Malik, the centre manager, told ThePrint: “We conduct several entrance exams at our centre. First the conducting agency sends us a contract with the requirements. Once that is finalised, they send a person to install the exam software (usually referred to as ‘server’) in our computers. A mock exam is held before the final exam goes live.”

However, on Thursday, no official from the testing agency turned up to install the exam software, Malik claimed, adding that several other centres faced a similar problem. “We got a notice with a contract but no one came to install the server.”

This centre, too, has not been given any intimation regarding the rescheduled date of the exam. 

A couple of Delhi schools that were also supposed to host the CUET told ThePrint that they didn’t know why the test was cancelled. An administrative official from K.R. Mangalam School in Greater Kailash 2 said that they had “absolutely no idea”.

An official from Abhinav Public School in Rohini told ThePrint on condition of anonymity: “We had shut our school and given the premises to the NTA. We are not aware of the nature of the technical glitches that led to the cancellation of the exam.”

Officials at the Asia Pacific Institute of Management, another CUET centre, claimed that they were only following the orders laid out by AICTE and had no idea what went wrong. 

(Edited by Gitanjali Das)

Also Read: No cut-offs in DU, different type of merit list at BHU — how CUET’s changing college admission

Source: The Print

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