July 13, 2024

Head of India’s National Testing Agency dismissed over exam irregularities

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The head of India’s National Testing Agency (NTA) has been dismissed following accusations of irregularities in recent exams for higher education.

The government has also appointed a committee to recommend reforms in the fiercely competitive process. Calls have arisen to rerun a medical entrance test after thousands of candidates secured unusually high marks, prompting protests over alleged cheating.

The National Eligibility Cum Entrance Test (NEET) is the gateway to studying medicine in India. Millions of students sit the exam every year, but only a small percentage get good enough marks to secure a placement. The results announced on June 4 meant that even high-scorers found it difficult to do so.

Since then, the exam has come under scrutiny for reasons ranging from errors in the question paper to unwarranted grace marks (compensatory marks) and fraud. Earlier this month, federal Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan admitted that “some irregularities” had come to light.

NTA chief Subodh Kumar Singh has come under intense criticism and was dismissed on Saturday. A qualifying exam for PhD fellowships was also canceled after the question paper was leaked on the dark web. The entrance test for post-graduate degrees in medicine, which was due to be sat on Sunday, has been postponed.

Opposition parties and student groups have been holding protests across the country against the lapses, putting pressure on the recently reelected government.

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