Dialog in Studioul BZI LIVE cu universitarul iesean care coordoneaza un domeniu important pentru economie si comunitate

Luni, 9 septembrie 2019, incepand cu ora 15.00, in Studioul BZI LIVE este programata o editie speciala avandu-l ca invitat pe conf. univ. dr. ing. Iulian Ionita – decanul Facultatii de Stiinta si Ingineria Materialelor (SIM) din cadrul Universitatii Tehnice (TUIASI) Gheorghe Asachi din Iasi. Alaturi de domnia sa vor fi abordate elemente ce vor pleca de la: ce inseamna Stiinta si Ingineria Materialelor pentru Civilizatia Umana; importanta materialelor metalice si nemetalice pentru economia mondiala si perspectivele in domeniu.

De asemenea, vizibilitatea Facultatii de Stiinta si Ingineria Materialelor, de la Universitatea Tehnica „Gheorghe Asachi” din Iasi, la nivel national si international va mai fi un punct ce va fi abordat. „Deviza facultatii noastre este: FII STAPANUL MATERIALOR! Aceasta deviza indrazneata se adreseaza in primul rand absolventilor in domeniu si nu numai”, a transmis decanul de la SIM. Pe de alta parte, despre insertia absolventilor pe piata muncii, relatia si colaborarile cu mediul privat, proiecte nationale si internationale ale SIM se va mai dialoga in Studioul BZI LIVE alaturi de universitarul Politehnicii iesene.

Toti cei care doresc sa adreseze intrebari o pot face folosind rubrica de comentarii, pe www.bzi.ro sau in direct, accesand pagina de Facebook.

Publicație: Bună Ziua Iași

Cambridge University accepts record number of state school pupils

 Students from UK’s most deprived areas also set to join in greater numbers

Cambridge has faced increasing pressure to diversify its student population. Photograph: Joe Giddens/PA

State school pupils have won more places to study at Cambridge than in any year since records began, taking more than two thirds of spots at the university’s prestigious colleges for the first time, administrators have said.

More people from the UK’s most deprived areas will also be attending the elite institution next month, the admissions department added, increasing in number from just over 12% to 14% of the freshers cohort, further reducing the places awarded to private fee-paying schools.

It means the 2019-20 student body will have 68% from state schools in a progression that Cambridge described as “deeply encouraging”. But it remains unrepresentative of entrants to UK university courses more widely. For the last five years, close to 90% of students enrolling in higher education have come from state schools.

“We have been exploring different ways to identify talented students who will thrive on our courses and help to make our student population truly representative of the UK population,” said Dr Sam Lucy, director of admissions for the 29 Cambridge undergraduate colleges. “This has included challenging false perceptions that put off applicants. It is deeply encouraging to see that our actions to provide educational opportunity for all those who have the potential to study here are paying off.”

Private schools have pointed out that some of their applicants are on scholarships and bursaries, so are not necessarily from socially or economically advantaged backgrounds, but nevertheless Cambridge, along with other leading institutions such as Oxford University, have faced increasing pressure to diversify their student populations. Cambridge has pledged to admit a third of its intake from the most underrepresented and disadvantaged groups by 2035 and wants UK state-educated pupils to make up 69.1% of its intake by 2024-25.

“There is still a long way to go in improving representation given that about 93% of pupils are taught in state schools in England compared to the 68% admitted this year by Cambridge,” said Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders. “State school pupils are also underrepresented at some other high-tariff universities. These institutions are increasingly recognising that exam grades are a blunt instrument and can serve to entrench educational disadvantage unless they are understood in their context. They are heading in the right direction in trying to address this situation and we appreciate that it is a complex process but it is frustratingly slow.”

Mike Buchanan, executive director at the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference, which represents private school leaders, said it “supports broadening access to such universities for bright students from all backgrounds, provided measures of disadvantage are sophisticated and intelligently applied”.

Publicație: The Guardian

Does the postgraduate premium really exist?

A new survey of employers raises questions about the labour market value of postgraduate study, says Tristram Hooley

When more and more people are going into higher education, it is easy for undergraduates to feel that having a degree doesn’t make them very special.

Universities have enthusiastically jumped on this anxiety. Postgraduate students now make up a quarter of the UK’s higher education population and their numbers are steadily growing.

All of this is good news for universities. Postgraduate degrees have long been viewed as cash cows, regarding whose pricing universities have far greater freedom and less scrutiny than with undergraduate degrees. It is in institutions’ interests to promote the idea that postgraduate degrees enhance employability. However, the Institute of Student Employers’ (ISE) annual development survey tells a different story.

Last summer, we surveyed 138 graduate employers in the UK to find out more about their recruitment approach. Only 9 per cent reported that they were actively targeting postgraduates and offering them specific packages. Our latest survey builds on this narrative. Earlier this year, we asked 156 graduate employers whether they believe that postgraduates bring more skills to their business than undergraduates do. Only 19 per cent concurred. In contrast, 87 per cent endorsed the view that work experience, in the form of an internship or placement, indicated better skills.

We then asked whether postgraduates progress quicker in terms of salary. Only 12 per cent of employers agreed that they do. These kinds of figures cast an employer-shaped shadow over the claims that taking another degree will propel your career into the stratosphere. While there are some occupations and sectors where employers are looking for postgrads, for the most part they don’t seek them out.

These figures seem to contradict existing research on the so-called postgraduate premium. Research for the Sutton Trust in 2013 reported that there was an average annual postgraduate premium of about £5,500. Given what we know about the increased likelihood of wealthier and more advantaged people taking postgraduate degrees, this has led to a lot of concern about whether postgraduate qualifications serve as a barrier to social mobility.

The findings from our survey, however, ask us to look more closely at the postgraduate premium and to think about how useful a guide it is for career decision-making, particularly at the age of 21.

First, we must recognise that a lot of postgraduate courses serve as an entry route to professions such as law, teaching and social work. People pursuing these career routes have no choice other than to pursue postgraduate study, and they undoubtedly account for a substantial chunk of the UK’s postgraduate premium.

Second, we need to make a distinction between people who return to do a postgraduate degree after a period in the labour market and those who continue to study after their undergraduate degree. The returners clearly have higher salaries when they enter and exit their programmes, and their choices about postgraduate study interact with their careers in more direct ways. Degrees such as the MBA differentiate them from their peers and allow them to specialise in more lucrative areas, or to change careers.

However, our survey casts serious doubt on the wisdom of those who continue to study straight after a first degree in the hope that adding some “postgraduateness” to their CV will give them access to the postgraduate premium. In many cases, those students could be better off focusing on getting more work experience.

We need to have a debate about the role of postgraduate study in the UK. While it is absolutely right to be worried about postgraduate qualifications creating a new barrier to social mobility, we should also be careful not to believe the hype. While, in general, postgraduate qualifications offer a substantial salary premium, our evidence suggests that employers remain unconvinced about the value of postgraduate study for entry-level hires.

Individuals should think carefully about what they want from postgraduate study, and pose some challenging questions to the universities that are so keen to sell these programmes.

Publicație: The Times

Scholars need to act with greater urgency

Steven Beschloss and Gaymon Bennett argue for academics to take their role as public intellectuals to the next phase, one that is personal, engaging and responsive to the problems of the day

Several months ago, The Guardian changed its style guide, urging its writers to use “climate emergency, crisis or breakdown” rather than climate change. The intention was to introduce language that matched the moment, indeed shifting from what its editor-in-chief called “rather passive and gentle” language to “what scientists are talking about is a catastrophe for humanity.”

We are living at a time of particular urgency and scale, a climate crisis that United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres described as “a direct existential threat.” While academics are not exactly first responders, this threat has led us to wonder whether existing academic processes and responses can be retooled to better suit the moment.

And more, it has spurred us to seek new approaches that can enhance and hasten the contributions of university intellectuals – to “get in the game” without sacrificing substance or credibility, to recognise that there are times when one’s special expertise and knowledge create the responsibility to address the demands of the day.

Over the next two years, we, along with our colleague Tracy Fessenden, will be engaged with more than a dozen faculty from across the sciences and humanities in an exploration of the ways in which apocalyptic thinking influences how we, as individuals and as a society, are addressing (or not addressing) the burgeoning climate crisis.

Entitled “Apocalypticism, Climate Change and the American Imagination” and supported by ASU’s newly formed Global Futures Laboratory, The Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict, and The Narrative Storytelling Initiative, this research project will delve into contemporary and historical materials to better grasp the kinds of apocalyptic narratives that have shaped American thinking and action.

To begin, we suspect that the pervasiveness of this cataclysmic mindset has either made people accustomed to disaster narratives or has so overwhelmed a growing public with the scale and dire nature of the threats that they resist the idea, the reality, and possible solutions.

Beyond this, we anticipate other people drawn to the prospect of the end times and still others entertained and ultimately consoled by Hollywood depictions of apocalyptic disaster in which the protagonist always survives. In every case (and there may be others we identify), it raises the question about what language and storytelling is necessary to accurately assess and constructively influence public perception, understanding and behaviour.

One can easily imagine how this is the making of a typical scholarly endeavour, an intellectual enterprise that may culminate in a white paper or academic research study. But we see this as a research and writing project with the goal of producing and publishing articles and essays as the work unfolds.

There are times when scholarship must be energetically engaged with issues of the day, and this communication is intended to share emerging knowledge, create dialogue, envision concrete improvements and, when possible, influence decision-making. Much like our counterparts in science and engineering have been geared to pursue projects of public interest and seek concrete solutions, we also hear the call.

As we see it, this is about letting scholars play to their strengths. Too often “writing for a larger public” is ungenerously cast in terms of vulgarisation – dumbing down. That mode of thinking presumes that we have the answers and all we need to do is share them with non-specialists in an easy-to-read manner. But we think something else is required that more meaningfully captures this effort. We expect that as scholars write for a broader public, they will begin to care about different things, ask different questions, and discover insights and new directions for their work.

At its best, our project has the potential to help scholars connect their passions and capacities, built up over years of discipline and hard work, to a broader engagement with this climate crisis. In the process, it has the potential to transform scholars’ own work, changing what they see, how they see it, and what they choose to pursue in the years ahead.

This is a chance to try something else, space to get it wrong more than once, and encouragement to take an iterative approach and discover how producing a number of little things can generate the same kind of depth and sophistication that scholars are typically expected to produce in one fell swoop. This process presumes that scholars have far more to offer that will be valuable to a wider public than they are typically encouraged to share.

Our project can be seen in the spirit of a wider effort underway on multiple fronts in universities today to revive and recast the calling of the public intellectual. If the older mode presumed that the public intellectual relied on scholarly authority to ensure credibility, the current movement is animated by a different energy and demands a different expression.

The urgency and scope of the climate crisis, along with other such far-reaching challenges, asks public-minded intellectuals to assess how their specialties and their personal experiences, far from being a hindrance, make them particularly well-suited to make sense of the world and, with training, connect with the widest possible audiences.

At such times of crisis, it may take a kind of intellectual triage in which diverse thinkers band together, putting aside their individual interests for some time, to figure out how they are best suited to tackle the often overwhelming demands of a world gripped by the Anthropocene. This means taking some risks, but it’s hard to overstate the potential rewards.

Publicație: The Times

Navigating payments for access to library collections can be a minefield

A Jisc survey of librarians reveals confusion and discontent with publishers’ access costs. Peter Findlay offers tips for negotiating better deals

In the mind’s eye, library collections conjure images of row upon row of books, from the latest novels to valuable, leatherbound first editions and irreplaceable historic publications yellowing with age. So-called special collections, including primary source material and archives of particular historical value, have always been harder to access due to their rarity, high value or fragility.

Physical resources will always be important, but in today’s online world, visibility and discoverability are most important and publishers are increasingly digitising analogue collections of texts, images and audio-visuals held in libraries to make them available for scholars and students.

Publishers know all too well that digital access offers great advantages and capitalise on the accessibility of their digitised collections by charging libraries for the content itself as a one-off cost, rather than a yearly subscription. However, they then often charge again for continued access to that content on their own delivery platforms through yearly “platform” or “hosting fees”.

recent Jisc survey of senior librarians and collection managers at 67 institutions reveals that 42 per cent spent on average up to £100,000 or more over the past five years on one-off purchases from publishers; platform fees ranged from up to £5,000 to more than £15,000 per year, and the majority of institutions felt that the platform/hosting fees they were charged were not very good value for money.

These digital collections are typically bought by research libraries and teaching-focused higher education institutions as one-off perpetual purchases, but there’s a catch: most licences don’t state that the fees will increase over time and HEIs find that they often do so erratically.

Institutions may be unable to gain access to content, even after forking out for a digital collection, without incurring extra costs. Having to pay unexpected ongoing fees puts strain on stretched resources.

The Jisc survey also reveals widespread discontent with the lack of transparency around these charges. As one of the respondents put it: “Some hosting fees seem set at a reasonable nominal rate while others can charge thousands while offering little in the way of updates to the resource. The business reasons for the charges are often not made clear.”

Another problem is multiple access charging. HEI libraries are charged per collection, which means that those with more than one collection on the same publisher’s platform can be charged several times.

Of course, libraries could consider refusing to use certain platforms, but it’s hard to justify cancelling access to a collection that has cost significant money. And they have already paid the one-off cost for acquiring the collections in the first place, so that investment would be lost.

Another area of concern relates to charges made by publishers to enable data-driven research of these collections. Publishers are supposed to enable text and data mining (TDM), but there is currently no standard approach to how TDM is facilitated and they will often apply charges to provide access to the data sets that institutions have already purchased.

One respondent commented: “We have been charged by one publisher for data to be sent to us on a hard drive in order for a user to carry out TDM on a newspaper archive that we had already purchased.”

An added problem is that libraries are not always aware of the level of TDM activity that takes place at their institution, as requests for data sets to publishers are often made by researchers directly to the publishers, thus bypassing the library.

According to the survey, 89 per cent of respondents have either never conducted data mining on their collections, or do not know if this has taken place. If libraries don’t have full visibility of the requirements for TDM in their institutions, they can’t support researchers adequately.

In response to members’ concerns and to support institutions with the purchasing of digital collections, Jisc has set up a new service, the digital archival collections group purchasing scheme, which has transparent pricing and aims to drive down costs

Higher education institutions collectively benefit from lower prices for digital collections based on the simple market principle: the more products that are purchased from a publisher, the lower the price for those participating. There is no need to negotiate because prices have been Jisc-banded to allow all members to participate, and there are no recurrent platform fees.

Jisc is also working with our members on a set of principles that will help guide purchase agreement negotiations for digitised collections. We have put together the top six things to consider when negotiating such a deal:

  1. Make sure that publisher agreements provide price transparency on all the costs associated with one-off purchases, including any recurrent annual hosting fees.
  2. Agree price rises for ongoing charges. Fees should undergo only a moderate increase to reflect genuine developments in the service.
  3. Ask publishers to agree to “bundle” recurrent annual hosting fees within the one-off purchasing price.
  4. Where content is added to a collection on a platform, costs should be available as a top-up purchase, not a hosting fee arrangement.
  5. All digitised public domain materials should ideally be released into the public domain after any exclusive licence period has been agreed between a publisher and an HEI.
  6. Ensure that text and data mining is an integral part of any digital collection purchasing deal.

Publicație: The Times

More Australian vice-chancellors earning A$1 million

Average remuneration hits A$982,900 (£543,800), Times Higher Education analysis shows

Seven-figure salaries are becoming the norm for Australia’s lavishly paid vice-chancellors, a Times Higher Education analysis has revealed.

The average remuneration package for bosses of Australia’s 37 public universities reached A$982,900 (£543,800) last year, with 16 leaders pocketing more than A$1 million each – up from 13 in 2017 and 11 in 2016.

Vice-chancellors’ earnings rose an average of A$47,400 or 5.1 per cent in 2018. This compares with a mean salary increase of 2.3 per cent for the country’s workers, suggesting the pay gap between university bosses and their staff widened last year.

Australian vice-chancellors also widened the gap over their British counterparts, who typically earned about 55 per cent as much, down from 56 per cent in 2017. English university chiefs’ remuneration averaged about £299,000 in the 2017-18 academic year, up from £294,000 in 2016-17.

Higher education consultant Justin Bokor said that the pay disparity between UK and Australian vice-chancellors negated one of the main rationales for the high antipodean remuneration. “The argument is that it’s an international marketplace and you need to pay competitive salaries,” Mr Bokor said.

“There is a fair bit of flow between the UK and Australia, so I’m not sure that argument holds.” About half of Australia’s 22 overseas-born vice-chancellors come from the UK.

But Mr Bokor said the fuss over university bosses’ pay was a “storm in a teacup”. Australian vice-chancellors typically earned several-hundred-thousand dollars more than the heads of large government departments, which were not subject to the same competitive pressures as universities, but considerably less than the chief executives of stock market-listed companies, which are purely commercial organisations.

The best paid Australian university boss last year was departing University of Melbourne vice-chancellor Glyn Davis, whose valedictory package of A$1.58 million was A$285,000 higher than his 2017 earnings. A spokeswoman said the figure included a university residence which was also used for official functions.

Retiring vice-chancellors can pocket extra entitlements on their departure, with the University of Newcastle’s Caroline McMillen and Griffith University’s Ian O’Connor – who likewise finished up in 2018 – also enjoying pay rises.

Three vice-chancellors’ packages declined in 2018. However, 20 saw their remuneration rise by over A$30,000, with 11 of them pocketing more than A$50,000 extra. Five attracted pay increases of A$100,000 or more.

If the earnings of those who did not serve the full year were recalculated on a pro rata basis, 18 vice-chancellors earned more than A$1 million last year. And even allowing for the A$285,000 paid to Peter Sherlock of the University of Divinity, a niche private institution which reports its accounts in a similar fashion to the public universities, the average university chief still earned around A$965,000.

Grattan Institute analyst Andrew Norton said that the cost of vice-chancellors’ remuneration was not “massive in the grand scheme of university finances”. But universities kicked “own goals” with chief executive salaries that caused resentment and disrupted the collegial atmosphere.

“So many in the university are employed on a casual or fixed-term basis,” he said. “You’ve got this very wide discrepancy between low-paid insecure people and very highly paid people up the top.”

Publicație: The Times

UK set to miss fundraising goal but ‘heading in right direction’

Case president says vice-chancellors must provide strong support for philanthropy

The UK’s universities are unlikely to hit their goal of raising £2 billion a year from philanthropy by 2022 but are “heading in the right direction”, according to a sector leader.

A review published in 2012 and led by Shirley Pearce, former vice-chancellor of Loughborough University, said that British institutions could reach that target if they adopted more imaginative fundraising strategies, expanded alumni giving and promoted the positive impact of philanthropy.

Institutions in the UK and Ireland raised £1.08 billion from fundraising in 2017-18, up from £979 million the year before, and £693 million when the Pearce review was written.

But Sue Cunningham, president of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, acknowledged that this left them some way off the £2 billion mark.

“Will we get to £2 billion by 2022? I think that is probably a bit of a stretch, but are we heading in that direction? I think as long as British universities continue to engage and take this work seriously, what with all else going on, we will get there,” Ms Cunningham said.

The “bottom line is that the investment is growing from philanthropists” in higher education in the UK, she added.

The latest Ross-Case survey of higher education philanthropy in the UK found that the proportion of alumni who donated who donated to their university had remained fairly static over the past decade and currently stood at 1.3 per cent.

Vice-chancellors had a key role to play in maintaining the growth of fundraising, according to Ms Cunningham, who said that leadership could “make all the difference” between a university “really engaging in this and seeing it as something slightly peripheral”.

Ms Cunningham, a former director of development at the University of Oxford who went on to become vice-principal (advancement) at the University of Melbourne, has previously called on UK universities to promote more fundraising professionals to senior management positions.

She said that this work was “progressing” in the UK but that there was still “a way to go”.

“I think Australia has moved faster in taking senior advancement professionals up to the executive table,” Ms Cunningham said.

However, with Brexit adding to the uncertainty over funding, philanthropy was now seen as more than just the “icing on the cake” for UK universities, Ms Cunningham said. This was a result of the “increasing visibility of the impact that philanthropy can have and the reality of more and more people studying at university and the government’s investment therefore being more and more thinly spread”.

There have been high-profile debates this year over whether universities should accept funding from Chinese technology giant Huawei, while, in Australia, universities’ moves to accept funding for “Western civilisation” courses have provoked concern over institutional autonomy and academic freedom.

Ms Cunningham said that it was important for institutions to have “clear policies about what donors can expect and what donors cannot expect”.

Publicație: The Times

Canadian universities earning more from fees than public purse

Domestic students benefit for now as foreign classmates cancel out provincial budget cuts

Canadian higher education is growing ever more reliant on foreign enrolment, to the point where public money is no longer the chief source of income for the nation’s universities, an analysis has found.

Postsecondary funding in Canadian provinces hit a peak in 2010-11 of C$22 billion (£13.5 billion), in constant 2016 dollars, before declining now to the level of about C$21 billion, the report by Higher Education Strategy Associates says.

Students – especially foreign ones, who are charged more than three times as much in tuition and fees – have been making up the difference. Tuition fee revenues rose from C$8.1 billion to C$13.7 billion between 2007-08 and 2016-17, as the share of college spending not covered by provinces rose from C$6.1 billion to C$12 billion.

Along with taxpayers getting some short-term benefit, domestic students appear to be feeling relief. More of them are taking expensive science classes and working fewer hours to support themselves, the analysis shows.

Canadian institutions and their students will eventually face tougher times, and perhaps should be doing more now to anticipate it, said Alex Usher, the president of Higher Education Strategy Associates, the Toronto-based consulting service that writes the analysis each year.

One main danger at the moment, Mr Usher warned, was that an overreliance on foreigners might eventually leave colleges – and their wider communities – with large numbers of alumni who lacked deep ties to the area and would not support it in the long run.

“I personally wouldn’t predict imminent trouble,” Mr Usher said. “But eventually, yes, there needs to be a reckoning and a rebalancing.”

Some see significant problems already lurking. Along with institutions in Ontario, where public funding of higher education significantly lags national averages, the University of British Columbia is facing faculty discontent over numbers showing that its fast growth in students – with more than a quarter now coming from abroad – has not been accompanied by corresponding gains in teaching staff.

Student enrolment at British Columbia grew 52 per cent between 2006 and 2018, while total faculty increased just 8.2 per cent, according to numbers from the UBC Faculty Association. The numbers have been cited by Nassif Ghoussoub, a professor of mathematics who serves on the institution’s board of governors, as evidence that “the massive increases in international student enrolments and revenues” are not being shared fully across the institution.

Either way, the sharp growth in foreign enrolment at Canadian institutions appears to be helping to transform the student experience nationwide. The new annual survey of first-year students, conducted by the Canadian University Survey Consortium, shows that 44 per cent of freshers self-identify as a member of a visible minority – three times the level of 2001.

That figure is 35 per cent if not counting international students, which indicates a level of minority identification well above nationwide averages for younger Canadians overall, Mr Usher said. That’s contrary to most countries where members of minority groups are much less likely than average to attend college.

Publicație: The Times

India must end its university entrance exam racket

State intervention is required to tackle India’s costly and complex admissions system, says Sanjay Mishra

Spare a thought for students and their parents who have recently endured sleepless nights while preparing university admission forms in India.

It is not an easy task for those aged 17 or 18 to choose from hundreds of entrance examinations set by universities or professional bodies, often wildly different in style and content, let alone complete a plethora of application forms and submit them before a number of different deadlines.

Each year about 10 million students pass the common Year 12 examinations in India, and the majority of them will seek admission into higher education. Since the number of students seeking admission in higher education sector is much higher than seats available in quality institutions, various selection methods have emerged.

As such, students must navigate the logistics of appearing at any number of entrance examinations, with the majority of them costing anything from 500 rupees (£5.60) to 3,500 rupees (£40) in application fees alone. This outlay often represents as much as the monthly earnings of an average Indian worker as most students will complete between three to five application forms . The actual cost to the nation is much higher as students from rural areas and towns have to travel to examination centres located in India’s main cities, often accompanied by a parent or relative.

Only engineering and medical education institutions at national and state level have developed some sort of umbrella entrance examination, followed by a common admissions process, to allow students to seek entry into a number of institutions. For example, National Testing Agency conducts the Joint Entrance Examination, which enables admission into any one of some 110 prestigious institutes of technology or information technology. Similarly, a Supreme Court intervention has helped to streamline medical entrance examinations into a single National Eligibility Cum Entrance Test (NEET) examination.  The Common Law Admission Test is a centralised test used by 21 national law universities and 43 other education institutes.

However, there are several hundred redundant entrance examinations conducted by several universities and institutions for admission in undergraduate programs in arts, science, commerce and engineering courses. Most private institutions conduct separate tests for admissions. Essentially, all these entrance examinations aim to test class 12-level subjective knowledge therefore there is no rationale for having separate entrance examinations to burden students.

Before the rigmarole of applications and examinations begin again for the next year , there is an urgent need to review this multitude of entrance examinations and allow multiple institutions to conduct admissions through a common application form and examination.

Most of India’s academic institutions or universities are autonomous and, therefore, free to administer whatever examinations they wish. They have total control over its format – descriptive, multiple choice, online or offline – its syllabus, fees, assessment centres and dates.

Because examination-related expenses are also drawn from the application fees collected from students, there is little incentive to reduce the number sitting them. For some reason, educational institutions do not consider the administration of entrance examinations as part of their duties to its would-be students and means every teacher, examiner, paper setter, evaluator and support staff is handsomely paid an honorarium for their work. It is also not uncommon to have some revenue to the institution at the end of entrance examination.

In this scenario, it is futile to think that any educational institution, whether government or private, would like to end the practice of entrance examination and opt for a more cost-effective solution to select students. There are simply no reason for them to participate in common entrance examinations found in nearly every other country in the world. This situation coupled with lack of any policy or regulation has resulted in growth of entrance examination in the country, causing severe financial hardship to students and parents and a major distraction from the actual business of teaching students.

The time has come for national reforms to curbing the ‘entrance examination industry’ in the interest of students, which will allow them to apply to a maximum number of institutions with a minimum amount of fuss.

First, similar institutions should have a single common entrance examination. For example, all central universities should have a common entrance examination. Already 14 newer central universities admit through a common entrance examination, so others can easily join them. Second, state universities should either conduct a single entrance examination at state level or simply admit through one of the above umbrella examinations conducted by central universities.

It is noteworthy, for instance, that there are many state governments in India which have abolished entrance tests for admission into engineering colleges. Instead, students apply for admission at a common portal with scores obtained in any pan-India entrance test. Similar systems can be developed for admission into arts, science and commerce streams as well.  This will save lot of time and money as scores from any of one of national level entrance examinations would allow admission into central as well as state government institutions.

Finally, about 80 per cent students in higher education sector study in about 40,000 colleges affiliated to 285 universities, according to the University Grant Commission. There is no homogenous policy on admissions and often students have to apply to each college individually.

If each of the affiliating universities took responsibility for their constituent colleges through a common admissions process, parents and students could save time and money that could be invested more fruitfully into education itself.

Publicație: The Times