The implementation of CUET was placed on the meeting agenda as an additional item and shared with faculty members on Monday. CUET, which is envisaged in the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020, was scheduled to start in the 2021-22 academic session, but was put on hold in view of the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic. In a letter dated November 26 and addressed to the vice-chancellors of all 45 central universities, including JNU, Delhi University (DU), Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI), University Grants Commission (UGC) said CUET will be conducted from the academic session 2022-23. Currently, JNU holds its own entrance examination, which is conducted by the National Testing Agency.
The additional agenda item shared by the university on Monday comprised two letters, one sent by the UGC earlier and another letter from the Education Ministry to the NTA outlining directions for implementation of CUET from 2022-23. “In view of the letters mentioned above it is submitted that Jawaharlal Nehru University Entrance Examination 2022-2023 for all programmes will be conducted as per the directions of MoE/UGC, as already passed in the 157th Academic Council meeting,” the item stated.
Ahead of the meeting, 111 faculty members from the university issued a statement on Tuesday and sought that the agenda item on CUET be referred for further discussion since it required extensive deliberation. “The Additional Agenda with regards to the conduct of next year’s JNUEE was circulated to members of the Academic Council only on 10 January 2022. Since this is a matter that requires extensive deliberation given the interdisciplinary nature of JNU’s programmes of study, we request the Academic Council to refer the agenda item for discussion at the School (BOS) and Centre(Faculty Committee) level,” said the signatories.
In a Facebook post, JNU professor Ayesha Kidwai, one of the signatories, said that while the meeting was scheduled for Wednesday, the agenda item had been circulated on Monday evening in a last-minute exercise. “A matter that should have been widely discussed at the Schools and Centres before making it to the AC will now, thanks to this last-minute introduction, is all set to be passed by it without any discussion whatsoever,” wrote Kidwai.
She added that the university offered a number of interdisciplinary programmes that were unique, due to which a common entrance test for other central universities would not be fit as an entrance mechanism for JNU. “How are the requirements of these programmes to be met in the entrance test, which must test candidates for their knowledge in not one but several fields?” said Kidwai.
Last month too, a section of JNU teachers wrote to the executive council of the university raising concerns against the university’s purported plans of implementing the common university entrance test. Moushumi Basu, associate professor at the School of International Studies and JNUTA secretary, said that a free and fair discussion on important academic matters, such as the CUET proposal, was not taking place.
JNU Students’ Union (JNUSU) president Aishe Ghosh said that the vice-chancellor was making an attempt to bulldoze through a decision-making process during the pandemic. “The JNU vice-chancellor has yet again chosen the period of the pandemic to put an additional agenda to the Academic Council meeting for passing CUCET, without any deliberation and discussion with the student community,” said Ghosh.
She added that JNUSU representatives had not been invited to the AC meeting and the move was aimed at changing the nature of JNU as a public university.
JNU V-C Jagadesh Kumar and rector I Chintamani Mahapatra did not respond to calls and text messages seeking a comment.