The National Eligibility cum Entrance Test or NEET-UG, a qualifying test for admission in medical institutions, may not be conducted twice in 2019 as announced by HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar in July, according to reports.

Days after the announcement of newly formed National Testing Agency (NTA) who would conduct the national- level examinations — NET, NEET, JEE (Mains) — that were organised by the CBSE, Health Ministry wrote a letter to HRD Ministry, asking them to continue with the offline examination or pen-paper mode in 2019 as well.

According to Javadekar in his July announcement, the tests would be computer-based. The exams would be held over a span of four-five days and students would have the option of choosing the dates, he said. The NEET-UG was scheduled for February 2019 with a repeat on May 2019.

The Health Ministry, according to Indian Express, sent a letter to the HRD Ministry within three days saying the announcement was made “without formal consultation” with them. The letter stated the computer-based test would put students from rural and economically poor families at a disadvantage.

According to a report, the letter also mentioned a disagreement with the dates announced for the NEET. The letter talked about how the examination would add pressure on students as Class 12 students also appear in the Board exams during the February-March period.

“The NTA would have to maintain a large question bank to cater to the proposed pattern of exam. With 16 sessions in a year, the bank is likely to be depleted of novelty very early. A potential misuse could be coaching centres fielding dummy candidates in every session to note the questions asked in the exam,” the letter also states, the newspaper added.

A meeting was later held between officers of the Health and HRD ministries where it was agreed to maintain status quo, only for the NEET, till 2019.

The NTA would also conduct National Eligibility cum Entrance Test Common Management Admission Test (CMAT) and Graduate Pharmacy Aptitude Test(GPAT), Javadekar said in July.

The nod for setting up NTA was given by the Union Cabinet and the budget for the same was announced by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley last year.

In November 2017 Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved setting up of ‘National Testing Agency (NTA)’ to conduct entrance examinations for higher educational institutions and it was in the month of December last year when the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur was given the responsibility of setting up an agency and begin the hiring of subject experts. This agency which came to be known as the National Testing Agency as a part of Centre’s one-point agency for conducting all entrance examinations. It was then that the agency had said that the first tests would be conducted from December 2018, for the academic year of 2019.

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