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Union Budget 2017 Reforms in Higher Education: National Testing Agency
AdmissionNews Education

Union Budget 2017 Reforms in Higher Education: National Testing Agency

On Wednesday, February 1, 2017, the Union budget 2017 was passed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in which he talked about the measures to improvise the education system of the country. He proposed to establish a National Testing Agency (NTA) which will conduct all academic entrance examinations for higher education.

NTA will liberate education bodies like Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) from administration work related to examinations. NTA will be an autonomous and self-sustained premier testing organization which would help CBSE, AICTE and other premier education bodies focus more on academics.

Earlier in the absence of any National Testing Agency, CBSE used to conduct major higher education related entrances apart from school board exams at Class 10 and Class 12 level for CBSE affiliated schools.

CBSE is responsible for conducting exams like JEE Main for Engineering colleges including Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs),  National Eligibility Test for UGC (UGC-NET) for selecting professors in college and university system, Central Teacher Eligibility Test (CTET) for appointment of teachers across several states and medical entrance test for admission to all MBBS courses. Now the NTA will conduct all entrance examinations including the two-tier JEE, CAT, CTET, UGC -NET and NEET, among others.

According to the Finance Minister, a system will be introduced for keeping a check on the annual learning outcomes in the schools. From now on stress will be given to science education and the curriculum will be made flexible to promote creativity through local and original content.

The government also proposed to create an innovative fund for secondary education which will ensure universal access, gender equality and quality improvement. This will incorporate Information and Communication Technology (ICT) enabled learning, transformation, and the focus will be on 3,479 educationally backward blocks.

The government shared the idea to influence information technology and launch Swayam platform with at least 350 online courses, which will enable students to practically attend the courses taught by the best faculty, access high quality reading resources, participate in discussion forums, take tests and score academic grades.

The finance minister proposed of establishing 100 international skill centers in 2017-18 and assured that the government will focus on evaluation of education outcome which is of primary concern in the education sector. Access to Swayam would be widened by association with DTH channels. The Finance Minister said that the online courses should reach a larger student base.

In higher education, the government will embark on reforms in the University Grants Commission (UGC). Good quality institutions will be enabled to have greater administrative and academic autonomy. The colleges will be acknowledged based on accreditation and ranking, and will be given autonomous status. A revised structure will be set up for outcome-based accreditation and credit-based programs.

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