Why no entrance tests this year

Established some 15 years ago at Awantipora, the Islamic University of Science & Technology (IUST) – a semi-government university has indeed struggled hard to run the show amid stiff competition with other universities in J&K. Over the years, the university has created its own space and become the first choice for the students to pursue their higher courses.

The University improved on its infrastructure and also took a lead in maintaining academic standards at the campus over the years, as a result of which the University has become eligible for getting grants from MHRD and UGC. Besides, a huge amount of money was granted from J&K’s planning department to build up over half a dozen structures in the university. The move has helped the institutions to shift the students from barracks to full-fledged classrooms.

In a nutshell, the university has been able to maintain the pace and come up to the expectations of the students irrespective of the change of guards in the institution. During their tenures, the former Vice Chancellors (VCs) contributed their bit for the overall development of the institution. Moreover, the incumbent VC Prof. Mushtaq Ahmad Siddique has taken a lead in developing the infrastructure for the students and also by introducing new professional and technical courses. Currently over 12000 students are enrolled in the IUST pursuing various professional and technical courses besides other degrees offered by the institution.

But it seems that the university, while being in race to take a lead in every aspect, has unfortunately dented the expectation of the students, and also adversely impacted its reputation that it earned over the years.

A single wrong decision taken by the varsity administration recently has raised negative feelings among the students. This year the IUST administration did not conduct the entrance of the students for their admission in various post graduate courses offered by the University. The university decided to select the students on the basis of their merit in their qualifying exams. The decision was taken in haste; the administration at IUST did not wait for the public response over its decision to do away with the PG entrance.

IUST had to face the same difficulties, like other universities in J&K, post August 2019 and the situation that erupted due to the outbreak of covid pandemic. The officials at the helm of affairs at IUST should have shown some concern about the students aspiring to pursue their courses in the University. Holding entrance for admission in IUST was not impossible. It is unfortunate that the academicians and the administrators helplessly surrendered before the ongoing situation for their own comfort and snatched the opportunity from thousands of students.

Instead of selecting students on the basis of their qualifying merits, the IUST administration should have explored the possibilities of conducting the entrance test which would have given equal opportunity to the students to compete. Like NTA, KU and other exam conducting bodies, the IUST could have also conducted the entrance of the students instead of hiding behind the excuses – the ongoing pandemic situation.

Several competitive exams like NEET, JEE and other national level competitive exams were held in the valley which saw huge participation of the students during the ongoing pandemic situation. Even thousands of students are going to appear in the upcoming exam to be conducted by JKSSB for the post of Panchayat Assistant. When all these exam conducting authorities found a way to hold entrance, why IUST could not do it the same way. Was it really so difficult for them. No not at all.

Earlier the University of Kashmir also decided to give the admission in PG courses on the basis of merit in the qualifying exams. Even the issue was discussed in the University Council meeting, but given the resentment and the criticism from the students, the Kashmir University delayed the admission process and conducted the entrance of students for admission in PG courses.

Unlike previous years, the Kashmir University set up its exam centres for students in various degree colleges in different districts and also in its north and south Kashmir campuses.

The authorities of IUST could have explored the same methods and utilized some colleges in north, south and central Kashmir to accommodate the students in PG entrance tests. This way they could have  avoided the disappointment of the students, and saved itself from the  criticism faced by the university now. The university would have not faced the criticism had it been a routine like in the Delhi University which provides admission on merit in qualifying exams. But over the years, the IUST continued a practice of holding entrance tests for admissions which was abolished in haste leaving the students in a state of despair.

Keeping in view the reputation it has earned over the years, it is highly unexpected of a highest seat of learning to take such a hasty decision which is not in the interest of the students in any way. This year the university has shattered the dreams of the hundreds of the aspiring students who missed their opportunity to compete in the test and did not get the admission in the university because of low merit in their qualifying exams. It is disheartening that students were not given the opportunity to compete for their selection in the University. One can only hope that the university administration introspects and avoids taking hasty decisions.

Let the institution not become a victim of wrong policies which ultimately will bring a bad name to the institution. Efforts should be made to make it student friendly and an institute of academic excellence.