Education ministry cancels NET over ‘integrity’ concerns | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Education ministry cancels NET over ‘integrity’ concerns

By, New Delhi
Jun 20, 2024 04:58 AM IST

The June edition of the exam was held on June 18 with 908, 580 candidates appearing at 1, 200 centres.

The Union education ministry on Wednesday cancelled the UGC-NET examination a day after it was conducted and said the integrity of the process may have been compromised, potentially jeopardising the futures of 900,000 students who appeared for the test.

The delay in the UGC-NET exam will almost certainly affect PhD admission schedules as universities across India depend on NET scores to decide merit lists (HT)
The delay in the UGC-NET exam will almost certainly affect PhD admission schedules as universities across India depend on NET scores to decide merit lists (HT)

The announcement adds fire to a swirling controversy around skewed results and allegations of paper leaks that have vitiated the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test this year, and will spark more questions about the processes followed by the National Testing Agency.

Centre cancels UGC-NET after reports of ‘integrity of exam being compromised’

The University Grants Commission (UGC) National Eligibility Test (NET) is conducted by the National Testing Agency twice a year for PhD admissions, assistant professorship and for the awarding of Junior Research Fellowship (JRF).

The June edition of the exam was held on June 18 with 908, 580 candidates appearing at 1, 200 centres, taking the test 83 subjects using pen and paper on OMR sheets.

But 24 hours later, the education ministry said that the UGC, India’s higher education regulator, received certain inputs from the National Cyber Crime Threat Analytics Unit of Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C) under the home ministry on the examination.

“These inputs prima-facie indicate that the integrity of the aforesaid examination may have been compromised,” the ministry said in a statement.

“To ensure the highest level of transparency and sanctity of the examination process, the ministry of education, Government of India has decided that the UGC-NET June 2024 examination be cancelled,” the ministry added.

A fresh examination will be conducted and information will be shared separately. “Simultaneously, the matter is being handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation (C.B.I.) for thorough investigation in the matter,” the ministry said.

The unprecedented developments came in a year NTA decided to move away from the computerised test format and hold the exam physically on a single day. This was the first time after five years that a physical NET exam was held.

The delay in the UGC-NET exam will almost certainly affect PhD admission schedules as universities across India depend on NET scores to decide merit lists.

Kamalakar Shete, UGC-NET candidate and student activist, said that he was deeply concerned by the incident.

“This situation underscores the critical need for robust and foolproof security measures in our examination system. While the decision to cancel the examination is disappointing for all candidates who have invested considerable time and effort in preparation, it is a necessary step to uphold the fairness and credibility of the examination process,” he said.

“I urge the authorities to act swiftly and transparently in rescheduling the exam and implementing stronger security measures to restore confidence in the examination system,” he said.

The cancellation comes at a time chaos is engulfing India’s premier medical entrance examination. For weeks, protests have swept across India as thousands of students hit the streets against this year’s process amid allegations of question paper leaks, inflated marking and arbitrary allowance of grace marks, even as opposition parties called for a Supreme Court-monitored probe into the allegations.

The government has repeatedly said it will not tolerate malpractice and irregularities but also ruled out scrapping the entire examination over what it calls were problems in a handful of centres.

This year’s NEET has been shrouded in controversy after allegations surfaced that in one centre in Rajasthan, students appearing for the Hindi medium test got question papers in English amid reports of torn OMR sheets and delay in distribution of question papers. A case was lodged in Patna over an alleged paper leak, after which the police arrested 13 people involved in solving question papers and supplying answers as part of a racket. The arrested people include four examinees.

At least 10 petitions have been filed in the top court since then. Almost all of them will be heard on July 8 by a bench likely headed by Chief Justice of India Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud. In all 2.4 million students sat for NEET at 4,750 centres spread across 571 cities around the world.

UGC NET June 2024 exam cancelled, Education Ministry says integrity of exam might have been compromised

On Wednesday, the education ministry said a detailed report was sought from the Economic Offences Unit, Bihar Police in connection with certain irregularities alleged in the conduct of the NEET examination in Patna.

“The government is committed to ensure the sanctity of examinations and protect the interest of students. It is reiterated that any individual/organisation found to be involved in this matter will face strictest action,” the ministry said.

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