It is that time of the year when students start running from pillar to post to secure admission at a well-reputed university in various undergraduate and postgraduate courses. While the majority of the freshman courses enrol students based on their 10+2 marks, whereas the bulk of the postgraduate courses hold an entrance examination to enlist the disciples. However, in a pandemic stricken world, most varsities are admitting students with a blend of marks secured in their graduation and their entrance test respectively.
Nevertheless, one institute that went the conventional way to admit students in postgraduate streams was the Indian Institute of Mass Communication. The IIMC is a distinguished centrally funded institute that offers postgraduate diploma courses in the field of mass media like journalism and advertising.
Till 2019, the IIMC held its entrance test which had both subjective and objective questions followed by an interview and group discussion session. But from 2020 the National Testing Agency (NTA) took over the procedure and introduced the Computer Based Test (CBT) with only MCQs which initially got a lot of heat from students and the institute's alumni.
However, in 2021, from the shadow of the second COVID wave, the institute went ahead with a physical entrance test held across various cities in India. The institute released the prospectus in late July, with the syllabus for the entrance test which is usually dominated by current affairs and general awareness.
The entrance test which was held on the 29th of August saw scores of students appearing to take the exam. The nitty-gritties started with three rounds of thorough checking before entering the examination hall. However, an added hitch the students had to face was to wait for more than one hour for the examination to start as the NTA site developed some glitches. The examination which was supposed to commence at 10 AM dragged on till 11 am.
When the students were finally able to log in and see the question paper, they were bewildered. It was like nothing that they had been studying for or anywhere close to the previous year papers. The entrance exam for a media institute which is usually bestrode by current affairs and language skills were taken over by questions from history and polity which had no apparent reason to be there, contradicting the syllabus which was released before the test.
“I could see the face of other students becoming pale when they looked at the question paper,” said Ananya who appeared for the test in the flagship course of the institute called English Journalism. “Moreover, it was a common entrance test which means that the students from the advertising stream and journalism stream would have the same question paper which is bizarre. Till last year, they had different question papers. I mean how could the NTA do this to the students, each one of us worked hard for months and I actually took a gap year after my graduation solely to prepare for the examination and this is the end result I get" vented Ananya who did her graduation in political science from Calcutta University.
The new and flawed Common Entrance Test (CET) introduced by NTA this year for advertising and journalism students had got the students perturbed as both the subjects are very different from each other. It is evident that NTA being just an examination conducting body had no idea of the basics and fundamental nuances of a media institute.
“I was seriously wondering how can the NTA pull of a Common Entrance Test. I knew things were not gonna hold up in the right way” said Devesh who wanted to bag a seat in the institute's advertising and public relations stream. Further adding, “I was giving my level best to crack this entrance test, studied for 7-8 hours daily, started to read the newspaper daily, began brushing up my English vocabulary and whatnot. But in the paper, not a single question came from the field of advertising, out of the 100 questions 85-90 were from history and polity and the remaining 10 were from geography and general awareness. NTA made a fool out of us, all the hard work that we had put in for months have been in vain” said Devesh.
Soon after the test, students took to Twitter to express their anger and the time that had been wasted on this examination. One person tweeted “Today's IIMC entrance test was complete nonsense, do they want their journalism students to be good in history or current affairs and language ?”. Another tweet read “Is this how the country's top media institute conducts its examination ? What kind of students do they want in their institute? Today’s entrance test seemed less like a media paper and more like UPSC/SSC paper.
The outrage on social media platforms elicited no response from the IIMC or the NTA which enraged the students even more. Students from across the country who aspire to be in the media field aim of getting into IIMC primarily because of moderate fees and a decent placement record of the institute, whereas other colleges charge extravagant fees for a mere 9 month PGDM course. Many also prefer it because it is situated in the nation's capital which would help students in getting a lot of exposure in the media field.
However, the potential students are splitting their hair over the entrance test and how it was conducted. Many say they would do master’s in some other subject and some are determined to only study at IIMC even if it means taking a gap of another year. But one this is clear that this year's entrance test is not acceptable at all and it surely hampered the institute's reputation along with NTA's. A mail to the director of the institute Sanjay Diwedi regarding a statement was unanswered.
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