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    COMEDK UGET ‘model exam’ for engineering colleges: Executive Secretary

    COMEDK conducts the UGET for admission to private engineering colleges in Karnataka. 70% are from outside the state. UGET 2024 is in May.

     

    The Consortium of Medical, Engineering and Dental Colleges of Karnataka (COMEDK), formed by Karnataka Professional Colleges Foundation, conducts the Undergraduate Entrance Test (UGET) for the state’s private engineering colleges. In 2023, about 70% of its applicants were from outside Karnataka. The COMEDK UGET exam date 2024 is May 12 at 400 centres across 200 Indian cities for around 20,000 seats. COMEDK executive secretary S Kumar spoke to Careers360 on engineering education and colleges, challenges with counselling, and the new centres to build skills and enhance employability. Edited excerpts below.

     

     

    Q. How did the idea of COMEDK come into existence ?

    A. In the academic year 2003-04, an 11-judge bench of the Supreme Court gave a verdict called the “TMA Pai judgment”. In its judgment, the apex court said that private institutions have a right to administer for themselves, meaning that they have the right to admit students and appoint people as per their own policies. The court said that the government cannot interfere in their functioning.

    There was a lot of confusion. The Supreme Court later issued two clarification orders on the TMA Pai judgment – Islamia judgment and Ramdas judgment. Through these, the Supreme Court said that every college could not hold entrance exams and that colleges of similar type should come together and develop a single process for admission.

    Based on these judgments, Karnataka took the lead through COMEDK. A six-member academic team of COMEDK was formed from the members of Karnataka Medical and Dental Colleges Association and Karnataka Unaided Engineering Colleges Association. They started conducting a transparent all-India examination for admission in Karnataka colleges.

    In 2004-05, we started with 16 medical colleges, 24 dental schools and 140 engineering colleges. After NEET started in 2013, we stopped medical and dental admissions and now we are conducting exams for engineering colleges only.

    Q. How is COMEDK different from other examination conducting bodies ?

    A. The exams conducted by COMEDK are also hailed as ‘model exams’ by the Supreme Court in some judgments. The court advised states like Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra to have a body like COMEDK for a similar admission process.

    We did not have a single question paper leak or malpractice for the last 19 years. Every year, our examination process is approved by an overseeing committee headed by a retired judge as per the Supreme Court’s Islamia judgment.

     

    To ensure transparency and fairness, we engage investigating agencies to find out the background of teachers engaged in preparation of question papers. The probe agencies check whether these teachers are part of any coaching centres or tutorials and whether they have written any of these so-called guide books.

    We never have one person preparing the entire question paper. The subject expert consultants assemble the question papers comprising questions from all topics suggested by the teachers and ensure the balancing of paper with moderate, easy and difficult questions. We don’t have a negative marking scheme unlike many other entrance exam conducting agencies.

    For the last eight years, we have been conducting examinations in Computer Based Test (CBT) mode comprising MCQ questions. We put up the answer keys on our website within two hours of completion of the examination. We provide a few days’ time for the students to challenge the answers and any challenge is reviewed by subject experts. Then, we put up the final answer key for evaluation and students are marked accordingly and ranks are provided to them for admissions.

    Q. How many engineering seats have remained vacant after counselling for the 2023-24 session? What are the plans to fill up the seats ?

    A. In 2023, over 93,000 students had applied for UGET, of whom 88,500 students took the exam for 22,000 seats. We could fill only around 8,400 seats in engineering.

    Private colleges of Karnataka fill 45% of their total seats through the Karnataka Common Entrance Test (KCET) conducted by Karnataka Examination Authority (KEA). These seats are reserved for residents of Karnataka only. Another 20% of the seats are called management seats. The remaining 35% of seats are filled through COMEDK – around 20,000 seats available to students from all states based on merit.

    We used to conduct our counselling for admission after the Karnataka government would complete theirs. The government always takes it slow and we lose a lot of students from outside Karnataka.

     

    In 2022-23, we received 61,038 applications, including 39,458 – 60% – from students residing outside Karnataka. In 2023-24, a total of 95,218 candidates applied for UGET. Of them, 66,662 – or, 70% – were from outside Karnataka.

    We told the government that we will conduct our counselling independently and are ready to refund 100% fee to Karnataka students who later get government colleges through KCET. Now, we are able to fill more seats compared to previous years.

    Q. How do you see the growth of engineering colleges in Karnataka ?

    A. As the executive secretary of COMEDK from 2004-05, I can say that students’ interest towards engineering is very, very high compared to what it was a decade and even five years ago. Now students believe that if you pick the right institution and acquire the required knowledge and skills, you can straightaway land yourself a job at reputed companies through campus placement.

    The top 30% of engineering colleges in Karnataka manage to attract students from all over the country. The rest of the colleges fall behind as they do not have the money to invest on development. Students make informed decisions and they do not want to be part of colleges which will not help them build their career.

    People who studied in Indian engineering colleges and universities and went abroad for jobs are coming back as the pay scale is almost equal to what they get in the US or the UK. So, we are witnessing huge interest among students towards engineering.

    Q. What is ComedKares? Please explain its functioning.

    A. ComedKares is an initiative by COMEDK to help students choose the right career by building their competitiveness and exposing them to various opportunities available in the industry. Last year, we had set up eight of these innovative centres across Karnataka to help our member colleges. The name itself suggests that at COMEDK, we care for students.

    At ComedKares centres, we offer training needed for modern-day engineering students. We train them in skills related to building prototypes, machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things, robotics etc. Students from any of the member colleges can approach these centres and take up these courses.

    Eight types of courses recognised by the Visvesvaraya Technological University (VTU), Belagavi, are being taught at ComedKares in the evenings and on holidays. We charge Rs 1,500 for a four-month course. Students also earn credit points.

     

    We started these centres in October last year and we have covered 18,000 students so far.

    Q. Are there any plans to hold examinations for PG engineering courses?

    A. In 2015-16, we conducted exams for six master’s engineering programmes but we had only 200 students taking them up even after making elaborative arrangements. We had noticed that colleges offer master’s seats to their undergraduate students without any entrance exams. Colleges are desperate to fill their PG engineering seats and sabotage entrance exams.

    Q. What are the future plans of COMEDK ?

    A. We are overwhelmed by the participation of students at ComedKares. We have eight centres now and I plan to increase it to 15. We also plan to increase the number of courses.

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    Also Read- 

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    2. Best Career Counselling Centre @ Ranchi
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