The Union Cabinet on Friday approved setting up of 'National Testing Agency (NTA)' to conduct entrance examinations for higher educational institutions, an official release said.
The NTA would initially conduct entrance tests that are currently organised by the CBSE, while other examinations will be taken up gradually, it added.
Currently, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) conducts 'National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET)' on behalf of the Medical Council Of India and Health Ministry and the 'National Eligibility Test (NET)' on behalf of the University Grants Commission (UGC), an official said.
"It (the move) will relieve the CBSE, the AICTE (All India Council for Technical Education) and other agencies from the responsibility of conducting these entrance examinations, and also bring in high reliability, standardised difficulty level for assessing the aptitude, intelligence and problem-solving abilities of the students," the release said.
The entrance examinations will be conducted online at least twice a year, thereby giving adequate opportunity to candidates to bring out their best, it added.
In order to serve the requirements of the rural students, it would locate the centres at sub-district/district level and as far as possible would undertake hands-on training exercise for the students, the release said.
The NTA will be given a one-time grant of Rs 25 crore from the government to start its operation in the first year and thereafter, it will be financially self-sustainable, it added.
It will be chaired by an educationist appointed by Human Resource Development Ministry.
The establishment of NTA, an autonomous organisation, will benefit about 40 lakh students appearing in various entrance examinations, the release said.
It will be established as a Society registered under the Indian Societies Registration Act, 1860.
In view of the need to have a specialised body in India like the most advanced countries, the finance minister in the Budget speech of 2017-18 had announced setting up of NTA to conduct all entrance examinations for higher educational institutions.