Prometric opens test centres, may go solo in conducting CAT

Prometric opens test centres, may go solo in conducting CAT

New Delhi: US-headquartered test-conducting firm Prometric Inc. opened its own test centres in India, paving the way for the company going solo in holding the Common Admission Test (CAT) for the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs). The company said, however, that “it will not drop its partners" in the near future. These include Everonn Education Ltd and MeritTrac.

“We have now opened two centres of our own—managed and administered entirely by Prometric—unlike other centres which are of third-party vendors," said Soumitra Roy, managing director of Prometric India. “We don’t know about the future, but will continue to expand our network."

Prometric, which has been conducting CAT online for the IIMs since 2009, is doing so in association with Everonn and Manipal education group-promoted MeritTrac.

Roy said the situation at Everonn is being closely monitored. The Indian company’s managing director P. Kishore is in judicial custody in an alleged tax evasion and bribery case. Roy also said that he didn’t want to associate an individual with the entire system. “We will take appropriate action at the appropriate time," he said, without elaborating.

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Roy didn’t comment on a question over whether there was a conflict of interest in Everonn entering the management test-preparation business while being involved in conducting CAT for IIMs.

Prometric’s move was a sign of its ambitions for India, said Bharat Gulia, senior manager (education practice) at Ernst and Young.

“They have a bigger and better bet on the Indian market. It’s a long-term view," he said. “The online testing segment is growing bigger in the country and a firm like Prometric looks for a bigger share."

The new centres have been opened in Gurgaon and Hyderabad—the first can accommodate 226 candidates in one sitting and the second 284. They will start operations this year.

They are “state-of-the-art centres that will cater to global demand", Roy said, without giving investment details. “They will be the benchmark for other test centres run by our partners."

The first edition of the online CAT led to a flood of criticism owing to technical glitches and virus attacks that disrupted the testing process and affected thousands of candidates. Their protests forced the IIMs to go in for another round of exams.

The 2010 CAT, however, went off smoothly.

The new centres, equipped with the latest technology and back-up systems, will end any apprehensions that students have, Roy said.

The new centres may help the IIMs in their bid to make CAT a global test, a point that Roy also made. Besides, CAT this year is something of a “super exam" with the results determining admission for some non-IIMs as well. These include the management schools of the Indian Institutes of Technology, the Faculty of Management Studies, the Delhi School of Economics and Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad, all of which have scrapped their own entrance exams.

The setting up of the new centres was welcomed by Janakiraman Moorthy, professor at IIM-Calcutta, and CAT-2011 convenor. “It will help IIMs scale up things in future," he said. Prometric “may go solo in future for conducting CAT".

The move may help Prometric in its bid to gain a bigger share of the growing Indian education market that has drawn overseas companies such as Pearson Education, which has acquired local firm TutorVista, besides setting up a joint venture with Educomp Solutions Ltd for skill education called IndiaCan.

“India’s education system is becoming more international in scope," Roy said. “The modernization of India’s approach to testing and evaluation is a critical component to ensuring that the Indian workforce continues to be seen as highly-trained, highly-productive and reliable... It is more critical than ever to enforce high security standards that assure fair testing experiences across the board."