CU-CET : The Global BigDaddy of UG of the next decade


-Why UG will be very exciting in the next 5 years

India aspires to emerge as a global powerhouse and an economic giant through its single most important differentiator – Education.  India is aiming to become a 50% GER nation that puts her in the bracket of the leading countries of the world.  Undergraduate admissions are the single most important indicator of this health of the nation.  The entry gate examination (Named CUCET) is a 75Lakh student test taker segment in the making when it comes to UG admissions.  This, when it emerges is going to dwarf any global exam including the SAT.

CUCET and the 75L segment in the making :

The Central University Common Entrance Test is the silver bullet by the National Testing Agency (NTA) to make the 50% GER happen. The 54 central universities including the likes of Delhi University, BHU, Jamia, JNU, Aligarh Muslim University, Hyderabad Central University, Tezpur, etc form the top aspirational bracket in this exam category. It, perhaps, is only a matter of time before other universities follow suit. This single entrance exam is slated to be held twice a year.

Let us look at some numbers here – GER vs EER

At present, India’s GER is at 26.7% with 37.4 mio students studying across universities, colleges and stand-alone institutions.; GER stands for Graduate Enrolment ratio. According to the All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE), India’s GER was 27.4 per cent for 2017-18. This, in effect, means out of the total population in the age group of 18-23 in India, 27.4 per cent attend college and university.

There are debates on whether GER is the right ratio or does one look at the Eligible Enrolment Ratio (EER); EER is the no of students in college divided by the no of students who completed class XII. India’s EER is at 63.7 and is comparable to developed nations.

Let us, for a moment, consider 50% of class XII graduates will seek admissions into universities, Colleges, Stand-alone institutions – this opens up a new UG entrance exam segment – that itself makes it a 75L students who would be college-able at a given academic year.

Cancellation of Class XII board exams: Here and Now in 2021

In the current pandemic situation, the cancellation of Class XII board exams only strengthens the argument and the importance of CUCET.  Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the cancellation of Class XII CBSE board exams on 1st June, due to the prevailing Covid situation. This is followed by various states and the status as on 4th June is as follows


Status Cancelled Not Decided Being Held Completed
States Goa, Gujrat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh Andra Pradesh, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, West Bengal Chattisgarh Bihar, kerala


What will CUCET do:

–           Standardise assessment criteria

–           Eliminate the need to appear for multiple exams (saves monies for students too)

–           Bring inclusivity and equal opportunity

–           Make the high cut-offs (100% in DU) a thing of the past

–           Risk of students not taking the Board exams as seriously

Many more interesting Policy and Macro economic development:

Let us take a look at what else has happened in this space over the last 24 months that will all go long way in contributing to the UG excitement in India.

  1. ‘ Study in India’

A program run by the MHRD is to make India a global destination for UG studies. Just a couple of years ago,  India used to get about 40k students from abroad for the UG program and the goal that has been set is 400k students coming to India to study.

From a macro-economics perspective, the drain i.e. the no of students going abroad as a foreign exchange drain is being sought to be offset by the students coming to study in India from an economic point of view

But from an education point of view – this is possible because Indian education is seen as high quality at 1/4th the cost and that is a great strength we have which will also help us in our business.

  1. Mega campuses in the making

The govt is nudging and incentivising the top universities to become mega campuses like MIT, Berkely, Stanford or Harvard where they have a student population of 40-100 thousand in a single university campus. The universities in China possibly have more like 100-200 thousand.  By announcing Vidya Kosh – a 100 cr p.a. kitty available on crossing 40 thousand students on campus.

  1. India version of global exams like LSAT

Another imp thing we are observing is that global exams such as LSAT have launched an Indian version of the test. Why – Because they are looking at Indians taking the test and since large no of Indian universities are attracting UG law students and LSAT is expensive, a customised India version of the exam has been launched called LSAT India. Last academic year itself this entrance exam clocked about 15 thousand test-takers.

All in all, while the grade XII exams have been cancelled by the centre and many states, the Undergraduate segment is an exciting segment to watch out for in the coming years.

Conclusion :

The trend and the macro outcomes are undeniably clear as far the future of the undergraduate landscape is concerned. The shifts and the milestones could always move a year here or a year there.  But, what is of most telling significance is the emergence of a higher education juggernaut called India that continues to be aided by a growing demographics, cultural value attached to education in Indian homes and the increasing purchasing power in the hands of Indian household.  This is the time to stay very proactive and observant of the story.


About the author :

Sujatha Kshirsagar is an EdTech leader with over two decades of corporate, entrepreneurial and policy experience. She is an Alumnus of IIM-Bangalore. These are her personal views.