Indian students in UAE, who have qualified for JEE Advanced, are eager to take the exam in UAE, to avoid the hassle of travelling to India under the current pandemic situation and the related flight ban. Picture for illustrative purposes only. Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

Dubai: More than 95 parents of Indian students in UAE have submitted a petition to the Indian Embassy, seeking a centre in UAE for the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) Advanced conducted by India.

Dr Aman Puri, the Indian Consul General, said: “JEE Mains were recently conducted across three centres in Dubai, for which around 1,000 students had registered. We have received several petitions for conducting JEE Advance in UAE and are aware of the difficulties in view of the ongoing travel restrictions. We are engaging with all the stakeholders concerned, to seek further clarity on various aspects of this issue and are fully supportive of the students concern on this matter.”

JEE Advanced is a qualifying examination conducted by the National Testing Agency (NTA) and is the only selection examination for students to gain admission to the prestigious Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs).

“The examination can only be attempted after qualifying in the JEE Main and is considered to be one of the world’s toughest examinations with the lowest qualifying percentage. It is also used by prestigious universities such as Oxbridge (Oxford and Cambridge) and considered very highly by National University of Singapore (NUS) and Nanyang Technological University when granting admission to students from the Indian curriculum for engineering courses,” explained Alka Malik, managing director, Ascentria-PACE, an institute that prepares students for JEE Advanced and NEET (medical) examinations.

She added: “The JEE Advanced has been conducted in the UAE for several years, including in 2020 when neither JEE Main nor NEET had centres here. However, this year, while the other two examinations will be conducted by the NTA in Dubai, JEE Advanced will not be conducted.”

Malik has spearheaded the petition to the Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi and the Consulate General of India in Dubai, seeking the reinstatement of the JEE Advanced centre in the UAE.

The uncertainty of return flights does not make it practical for us to travel to India for the exam. It is not easy for parents to travel with their children as well, on such a short notice.

- Harsh Phawade, student of The Millennium School

“We are really hoping that the Indian government and IIT Kharagpur, the organising institute for JEE Advanced 2021, will consider the appeal of parents for students hoping to write this examination in the UAE. The ongoing pandemic, travel restrictions, uncertainty surrounding allocation of centres, apart from so many other factors, will undoubtedly impact the performance of our students. They have, despite all challenges, been preparing relentlessly for this examination. Many of them have already attained more than 99 percentile in JEE Main and will definitely qualify for Advanced,” Malik said.

The last attempt for JEE Main 2021 is likely to be held at the end of this month and rankings will be declared next month. “With the JEE Advanced scheduled for October 3 this year, the stress for students to make arrangements for travel, quarantine, find the centres allocated etc will all impact their performances adversely. We appeal to all concerned to please support these hardworking students,” said Malik.

Distraught students and parents

Harsh Phawade, 18, a student of The Millennium School, who is to take the exam this year said he wished for a centre to be arranged here itself due to the ease of access and the smooth conduct of exams here. “The uncertainty of return flights does not make it practical for us to travel to India for the exam. It is not easy for parents to travel with their children as well, on such a short notice. Moreover, regular flights have not opened up yet between UAE and India. So how can we travel,” he asked.

Indian expatriate father Nitin Rastogi, who works as an IT manager in the aviation sector, said he was concerned about his twin boys Ansh and Vansh. The boys, both 17 years and students of Indian High School Dubai, are aspiring to study in premier engineering colleges in India. “They studied in Meccademia to prepare for Grade 12 and JEE and have scored high in the JEE Main and qualified for JEE Advanced.”

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He added: “Following the recent announcement by IIT that there will be no JEE Advanced exam centres outside India, we are upset that our children will miss out on this opportunity. There is an apprehension among working parents that if they travel to India for the exams, along with their children, they may get stuck there due to the COVID situation. This is a matter of our children’s future and it’s a humble request to the authorities to reinstate examination centres in the UAE,” he said.

Atif Rehman studying in Our Own Sharjah, boys’ branch said: “The UAE has left no stone unturned in controlling the spread of COVID-19. Given the strict safety protocol and the flight bans, it would be enormously helpful for the students preparing tirelessly for their JEE Advanced for more than two years, if the exams are also conducted in UAE.”

He too has scored highly in JEE Main.