With a delay of almost four months, students waiting to appear for the competitive Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) and National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) fear their academic year will be affected due the absence of practicals. These competitive entrance tests, necessary for admission to technical, engineering, medical and dental undergraduate (UG) programmes, respectively, were supposed to be conducted in May, but have now been deferred to September due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Students who have cleared their Standard 12 claim the deferment of entrance tests will change the academic cycle 2020-21 completely with colleges starting behind schedule, less time for first semester and no scope for practical tests. Drizealla Lopez, a student preparing for NEET said, "I do not know when and how will colleges start the academic year post the NEET examination in September. Conducting lab tests and practicals seems impossible if the college starts online classes. We might lose on integral concepts and practices necessary in the medical field."
This year, the NEET examination, for admissions to UG medical and dental courses, is scheduled to be conducted on September 13. Sudha Shenoy, representative of the medical parents' association said, "If the NEET is conducted in September, then calculating the time for declaration of results, merit lists and completion of admissions, the academic year can be expected to begin around November-December."
On the other hand, students preparing for JEE Advanced in order to secure admissions in Indian Institute of Technology (IITs) fear they will lose practical learning and field exposure due to the delay. Mudassar Qazi, a student preparing for the examination said, "JEE Advanced has been postponed from May to September 27 this year. We are already running behind schedule. This delay might reduce the time we get for the first semester with lectures going online and practicals deferred. I am working hard to join IIT because I want to gain campus exposure and learn from the alumni, but I think I will miss both.”
Authorities of degree colleges claim this delay and the lack of practicals may shift students to consider admissions to Bachelor of Science (BSc) or related professional and non-professional courses. A principal of a South Mumbai college said, "Students may consider securing admissions to general degree courses like BSc, BSc IT or related programmes to be on the safer side. The academic year is affected as a whole due to the pandemic, so students might explore different options."