Mumbai: When Prajakta Shipre got married at the age of 18 and got immersed in her domestic responsibilities, all her dreams of earning a graduate degree seemed to go up in smoke. But that was not to be the case. Two years later, Shipre picked up from where she left. Thanks to the University Entrance Test (UET) offered by the SNDT Women`s University, Shipre not only completed her graduation but also acquired an even higher qualification. The 42-year-old now has an MA, MPhil and even a PhD in Marathi Literature under her belt.
"UET is a ray of hope for women like me, who had to give up studies at an early age. Since the degree course is offered in distance learning it`s quite convenient to manage family life along with the studies," explains Shipre, mother of two, who is now employed as a faculty member in the distance-learning cell of the university.
Incidentally, SNDT is the only university in Maharashtra to offer this entrance test leading to a degree. Recognized and funded by the University Grants Commission (UGC), UET is specially held for those women who haven’t finished their class 10th and 12th for whatever reason.
Archana Surve’s case is even more poignant. She was diagnosed with brain tumour when she was in class 9. She had to give up her education immediately and future seemed bleak. However, six years later, after recovering from her ailment, Surve appeared for the UET. Today she is pursuing her MA (Part 1) in History. "When I was diagnosed with the tumour I had no idea whether I would have a future. UET has given me a new lease of life post my recovery," says 30-year-old Surve.
Shipre and Surve are not the only ones to have fulfilled their academic dreams through UET. Every year, approximately 2500 women from 65 centers in Maharashtra and Gujarat appear for this test. On an average 900 of these candidates pass and pursue a BA or BCom degree in the distance-learning mode. Those who don`t make the cut can sit for a re-exam six months later.
"Candidates have the option of answering UET in any of the four languages - English, Hindi, Marathi and Gujarati," says GY Shitole, in-charge professor and director, Centre for Distance Education, SNDT Women`s University.
The entrance test is held twice a year, within a gap of six months in May and December. After earning a graduate degree these women are eligible to pursue a postgraduate course at an institute of their choice anywhere in the country. "Our graduates from this course have gone on to pursue their PhDs. This certificate is recognised everywhere in the country and is at par with a full time degree course," explains Shitole.
The test is of 400 marks and is divided into four sections. Degree aspirants have to deal with different subjects for different streams. For instance, a BA aspirant has to answer questions regarding Social Sciences and Logic. A BCom Candidate, on the other hand, has to face questions on Organizational Commerce and Economics. Language and learning skills are common sections for both streams.
Students don`t need to worry about study material both for the entrance test and the course. The university provides the required material and also conducts contact lectures prior to the test to give the candidates an overview of the questions at a nominal fee.