UGC-NET cancelled day after examCentre says 'exam integrity compromised'


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Even as the controversy over NEET threatens to reach a boiling point, the Ministry of Education has cancelled the UGC-NET exam, conducted by the National Testing Agency, just a day after it was held. Over 9 lakh candidates had appeared for the exam, which is held for Assistant Professor posts in universities and colleges and to determine eligibility for junior research fellowships.
The announcement triggered an immediate reaction from Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who called out the Government for its "laxity" and demanded that accountability be fixed.
In a statement, the Education Ministry said the June exam of the University Grants Commission-National Eligibility Test (UGC-NET) was conducted on Tuesday in OMR (pen and paper) mode in two shifts across the country.
"On 19th June, 2024, the University Grants Commission (UGC) received certain inputs from National Cyber Crime Threat Analytics Unit of Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C) under the Ministry of Home Affairs on the Examination. These inputs prima facie indicate that the integrity of the aforesaid examination may have been compromised," it said.
The Ministry said it was announcing the cancellation of the June 2024 examination "to ensure the highest level of transparency and sanctity of the examination process" and that it will be held afresh at a date which will be shared later.
There have been reports of the paper of the examination being leaked, but this was not confirmed by the Ministry.
It said only that the matter has been handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation for investigation.
The UGC-NET is conducted twice every year, in June and December.
On Tuesday, UGC Chairman M Jagadesh Kumar had posted on X, "Today, NTA has successfully conducted UGC - NET June 2024 for determining the eligible candidates for (i) 'award of Junior Research Fellowship and appointment as Assistant Professor', (ii) 'appointment as Assistant Professor and admission to PhD.' and (iii) 'admission to PhD. only' in 83 subjects in OMR (Pen and Paper) mode in two (02) different shifts (09.30 AM to 12.30 Noon and 03.00 PM to 06.00 PM)."
"The examination has been conducted at 1,205 Exam Centres in 317 cities across the country for 11,21,225 candidates. Out of the total registered candidates, about 81% candidates appeared for the exam. Best wishes to all the candidates," he had written.
Nearly 24 lakh students had appeared for the NEET-UG 2024 for undergraduate medical courses, which is also conducted by the National Testing Agency (NTA), on May 5. The results were announced on June 4, 10 days before schedule, but allegations of a question paper leak and grace marks to over 1,500 students triggered protests. Cases were also filed in Courts, including the Supreme Court, which has come down heavily on the NTA.
On NEET, the Ministry's statement said, "The issue related to grace marks has already been fully addressed. As regards certain irregularities alleged in the conduct of the examination in Patna, a detailed report has been sought from the Economic Offences Unit, Bihar Police. Government will take further action, on receipt of this report."
"Government is committed to ensure the sanctity of examinations and protect the interest of students. It is reiterated that any individual/organisation found to be involved in this matter will face strictest action," it added.