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‘We can oppose NEET but have no authority to conduct our own exam’

‘We can oppose NEET but have no authority to conduct our own exam’

As the NEET controversy rages across the country, Congress-ruled Karnataka is considering following in Tamil Nadu’s footsteps by waging a legal battle to get an all-India exemption from the test. But Higher Education Minister Dr MC Sudhakar tells DH‘s Rashmi Belur that having an entrance exam for medicine at the state level requires the approval of the Supreme Court. He also talks about the future of CET. Fragments:

What are your views on a separate state-level entrance test for medical courses in view of the NEET controversy?

The NEET development is very shocking. None of us expected a paper leak or such malpractice. Research must reveal the truth. NEET was introduced mainly on the directions of the Supreme Court. Tamil Nadu has been opposing it from day one. But until the Supreme Court allows it, neither state can begin its own test. We can object, but we do not have the authority to administer our own exam.

Will the delay in the NEET process affect the CET schedule for other courses?

Although there are no restrictions on conducting counselling, we are concerned as investigations into irregularities in NEET reveal new cases every day. We are concerned about the possibility of the exam being declared null and void. Our entire counseling process will be disrupted by the NEET issue. We are preparing a plan ‘B’. We will discuss the plan with the Prime Minister soon to prevent the entire process from being derailed.

Even KCET faced controversy this year.

In the case of KCET, it was not malpractice. It was a problem of questions that were not in the syllabus. To streamline the system, we are introducing artificial intelligence, facial recognition and biometrics in competitive exams.

There are reports that the government is planning to amend the Karnataka State Universities Act.

Yes, we are discussing changing the law. We need to be accountable, even for vice-chancellors, while improving the quality of the Syndicate and the functioning of universities.

Why have no recruitment orders been issued for 1,200 university lecturers?

The verification of all candidates is over. But 32 people went to court over the issue relating to Section 371(J) and were granted stay orders. The case will come up for hearing on July 7. We hope to get the enclosure cleared and complete the process. Meanwhile, we have submitted a proposal for 6,000 sanctioned teaching posts in government-run colleges, engineering colleges and polytechnic colleges.

Will the recruitment freeze at universities continue?

In response to requests from universities and their struggles due to the lack of permanent faculty, we have slowly started the (recruitment) process. Recently, recruitment was initiated at Raichur University. For universities whose statutes have been approved by the Governor and Chancellor, we forward recruitment proposals to the Finance Department. Recruitment will be done through an entrance test.

What about the seven universities, established by the previous BJP government, which you consider a burden?

Each university needs Rs 340 crore over a period of five years. The issue was recently discussed in Cabinet and a subcommittee was set up to study public universities. The committee will be headed by Deputy Chief Minister DK Shivakumar. Our cabinet colleagues emphasized that some universities do not even have money to pay pensions. Taking all these issues into account, the committee will visit the universities, study them and submit a report.

The school education department has taken ambitious initiative in the field of CSR funds. We have also chosen to approach companies. Our intention is to improve the quality of education, rather than just focusing on infrastructure such as the construction of buildings. I have directed officials to submit a report on the differences between private colleges and government schools.

Are there plans to limit the number of engineering chairs?

We have no option but to approve seats approved by the regulatory body (AICTE). We cannot escape the clutches of the regulatory authorities. I believe that such bodies should assess the scenario before approving an unlimited increase in admissions.

Published June 30, 2024, 02:03 IST