Not long after announcing its idea to introduce a uniform admission test at the public universities, the University Grants Commission (UGC) has already had to backtrack on its plan. The UGC has now decided to follow "a cluster system" for admission tests this year. The decision to not adopt the centralised admission test comes after five leading universities opposed it. What are the lessons that we learned from all of this?
The fact that the UGC has had to reverse on its decision so soon itself should be one. As some academics previously pointed out, it would be difficult to organise a centralised admission test without the necessary logistical support and structure in place. What that structure and logistical support are, one would expect the UGC to discuss with all the stakeholders before coming to a final decision concerning such a major issue. But it seems from this sudden reversal that the UGC had not discussed this properly with the stakeholders. Which is why, it could not bring five major universities on board with its previous plan. And we can't help but wonder if its new plan also has the same lacking, in which case it will, once again, most likely fail to garner the support of the major universities.
Given how big this decision is, and how it affects thousands of aspiring students—and in fact, the nation as a whole—the UGC cannot afford to decide first and think later. This is not a case where the UGC can weigh the pros and cons through experimentation—basically, with the lives of students. The merits and demerits have to be thought out before any final system is put in place. That is why it needs to hold more thorough discussions with experts and stakeholders to figure out any and all loopholes to any new system, and try to figure out how to overcome them before, not after, deciding to adopt any new system.