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LAHORE: Major universities in Punjab have refused to adopt the Higher Education Commission’s ‘Education Testing Council’ (ETC) Aptitude Test for admission to undergraduate programmes from fall 2017.

The institutions including Punjab University, University of Engineering and Technology, the University of Health Sciences and Government College University have expressed their inability to adopt the ETC Aptitude Test citing various reasons.

Similarly, most private varsities are also not interested in the HEC-backed test.

According to the officials of some public and private varsities Dawn spoke to on Wednesday, the varsities cannot adopt the HEC entrance test as it may not only ‘hurt’ their autonomy but also deprive them of revenue.

“The medical admission test is not a test of any university rather it falls in the domain of the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) and the provincial government. It is conducted by the UHS on behalf of the Punjab government according to the regulations of the PMDC. It is arranged at multiple centres all over the province and is one of the biggest high-stake tests and is quite different from other admission tests arranged for entry into university programmes in terms of value, weightage and stakes involved. A lot of hard work and effort is involved in making this a standardised test over the years. This test is now a symbol of quality, merit and transparency that cannot be compromised at any cost,” the UHS spokesman told Dawn.

A dean of GCU’s faculty said the university administration had communicated to the HEC its inability to change its admission criteria and rules at such a short notice. “The university’s admission criteria and rules are approved by the University’s statutory bodies - academic council and syndicate - and any decision in this regard could only be taken after their approval.”

The PU and UET officials said they could not adopt the HEC’s ETC Aptitude Test at this stage as they had advertised their undergraduate admissions. They said both varsities might consider adopting the HEC’s test at some later stage.

The HEC recently had written to all the vice chancellors, rectors and heads of public and private universities seeking their confirmation on allowing the ETC Aptitude Test during the fall this year.

The HEC in January had established the ETC to “relieve students and their parents of taking multiple recruitment tests and charge of fee for each test separately providing free-of-cost, uniform, standardised, competitive and accessible assessment tests for admission to varsities and degree-awarding institutions across Pakistan.

The HEC says the ETC will be launching tests for admission to undergraduate programmes fall 2017 (during first half of July) initially in five broad categories - engineering, medical, basic & natural sciences, management sciences and social sciences, and arts and humanities.

Since the establishment of the ETC, it has conducted tests for over 100,000 students for different HEC’s indigenous and overseas scholarship programmes.

Published in Dawn, June 22nd, 2017