The human resource development ministry on Friday postponed crucial medical and engineering entrance exams National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test and Joint Entrance Examto September in view of the spike in COVID-19 cases.
The decision was taken following recommendations of a four-member committee set up to review the feasibility of conducting the exams in July.
"Keeping in mind the safety of students and to ensure quality education we have decided to postpone JEE and NEET examinations. JEE-Main examination will be held between September 1-6, while JEE-advanced exam will be held on September 27. NEET examination will be held on September 13," said Union HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nihank'.
Following the announcement of a nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, the competitive exams for engineering and medical admissions were first postponed on May 5.
The medical entrance exam NEET was scheduled for July 26, while the Joint Entrance Exam-Mains for admission to engineering colleges was to be held from July 18-23.
JEE-Advanced, which is conducted for admission to Indian Institutes of Technology, was earlier scheduled for August 23.
Parents and students have been been signing online petitions and conducting Twitter campaigns, requesting the government to postpone the engineering and medical entrance exams as well.
Parents of nearly 4,000 NRI students based in West Asia also filed a petition in the Supreme Court on Wednesday demanding that NEET be postponed. They noted that there are no exam centres outside India and international travel is still restricted due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Around nine lakh aspirants have registered for the JEE (main) exam, while 16 lakhs have registered for the NEET-Undergraduate exams. Raising concern over the worsening of the pandemic, candidates across the country have been demanding the postponement of the exams.
According to HRD ministry officials, the committee felt that delaying the exams was inevitable since many test centres were located in containment zones and safety of the students was top priority of the government.
The delay, however, is likely to impact the academic calendar.
According to sources, the counselling for the two crucial exams will begin in October and freshers may begin classes by November end or December first week. However, a definite plan has not been drawn yet.