On Friday, the Union Cabinet, chaired by PM Narendra Modi, approved the establishment of an independent body to conduct entrance exams for admission to higher education institutes. The National Testing Agency (NTA) will be an autonomous organization that will oversee the conduct of entrance exams for admission to the IITs.
These examinations include the National Eligibility Cum Entrance Test (NEET) for students aspiring to join medical colleges and the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE-Main). As per the 2017-18 budget statement, the government was aiming to set up a testing body. An official cabinet statement said, “It will relieve CBSE, All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE) and other agencies from the responsibility of conducting these entrance examinations, and also bring in high reliability, standardized difficulty level for assessing aptitude, intelligence and problem-solving abilities of students”.
The statement also said that the entrance examinations will be conducted in online mode at least twice a year, thereby giving adequate opportunity to candidates to bring out their best
The Human Resources Development Ministry will appoint the chairperson for the NTA. The government will appoint the CEO, who will also double as a Director General, and there will be a Board of governors from various institutions.
The Central Government will give the NTA a one-time grant of Rs.25 crore to kick-start its operation in the first year, after which it has to be self-sustainable. Initially, the NTA will conduct the entrance examinations that are now being conducted by the CBSE, and will take on other examinations once fully geared up.