One agency for all exams of higher education

Body to be given autonomy and administrative powers

The Centre has set up a task force to prepare a blueprint of its ambitious plan to set up a national agency to conduct various entrance examinations and recruitment tests in the country.

The eight-member task force, set up by the Human Resource Development Ministry, will be headed by former IIT-Kanpur director Sanjay Dhandhe.

The Chairman of the central board of secondary education, and one representative each from the University Grants Commission (UGC) and All India Institute of Technical Education (AICTE) will be among the members of the panel, among others.

The proposal to set up a National Testing Agency (NTA) is yet another ambitious move by the Centre to push its “one nation, one test” agenda to relieve students from the burden of facing multiple entrance tests, even as the Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry assures that the new system will not be imposed on any institution.

According to the ministry’s proposal, NTA's basic mandate will be to conduct efficient, transparent tests of international standards in order to assess the competency of candidates for admission to colleges and professional institutes of higher learning, including engineering, medicine and management.

The proposal also seeks to hold nationwide tests for the purpose of recruitment in various government departments and granting scholarships in future.

The first of its kind in the country, the agency will be given administrative and financial autonomy to make it a self-sustaining premier testing organisation.

“The task force set up to prepare the blueprint will suggest ways and means of setting up such an internationally-benchmarked testing and assessment agency. It will also suggest parameters to standardise all the major tests, including the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE), conducted in the country,” a HRD Ministry official told Deccan Herald.

The idea of setting up a National Testing Agency has been under the consideration of the ministry for several years. When Kapil Sibal was the HRD minister, he had wanted to set up the NTA by an Act of Parliament to make it a statutory body.

The ministry, however, later dropped the idea of setting up such a body in view of its experiences with its various key legislations, which have been pending for passage in Parliament for a long time.

The ministry now plans to set up the proposed agency by an executive order.  The proposal to set up NTA got approval of the Central  Advisory Board on Education (CABE) in its last meeting.

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