UGC Guidelines: Exams in the midst of COVID-19 is 'akin to murder'

UGC Guidelines: Exams in the midst of COVID-19 is 'akin to murder'
Picture used for representational purpose (Source: Shutterstock) Radhika | Jul 7, 2020 - 11:17 a.m. IST
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NEW DELHI: The University Grants Commission issued its much-awaited revised guidelines on conducting end-semester exams late on Monday and instantly incensed thousands of students who were hoping for a cancellation.

As per the new guidelines, the universities can take till September to hold examinations for final-year students and they can be in pen-and-paper, online or “blended” – a combination of online and offline – mode.

This irked Delhi University students in particular as they have been protesting against DU’s plan of holding online open-book exams for weeks and the mock-tests conducted to get them used to it led to chaos and panic.

Right before the UGC guidelines were released, the Ministry of Home Affairs also released an official notice allowing the universities to hold exams.

Soon after the announcement of the UGC’s revised guidelines, students expressed their anger and disappointment on social media. Even the next morning, the hashtags #UGCGuidelines, #StudentsLivesMatter and #Cancel_Exam2020 were trending on Twitter.

"I think, his “jyotish” confirms that, pandemic will over within September," quipped one student on Twitter.

"Taking exams for all universities and institutions at this time is akin to murder," said another, referring to the growing cases of COVID-19 in the country and the fact that both notices came on the day India, with over seven lakh COVID-19 positive cases, unseated Russia as the country with the third most number of cases.

States have cancelled exams

So far, six states have cancelled the end-semester exams. Several universities and eminent educational institutes, including Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) have also cancelled or postponed the exams considering the severity of the coronavirus outbreak in the country.

When the human resource development minister, Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’, announced toward the end of June that he had asked the UGC to “revisit” its April guidelines on exams and the academic calendar, many teachers and student bodies took it to mean a cancellation was imminent. However, the opposite decision followed.

Soon after the announcement of the UGC’s revised guidelines, students expressed their anger and disappointment on social media.

“If the government does not make a decision in favour of the student now, then every single student of the country will never forget this. And the punishment for this work will be given to you by a single student of the country at election time,” wrote one furious student.

‘Senseless decision by UGC, senselessly backed by MHRD’

"A tight slap to every student for trusting @ugc_india and government that they will prioritise our safety!" wrote a student refereeing to Pokhriyal’s promise that the UGC would revise the guidelines keeping in mind the students’ health and safety.

Another wrote: “Senseless Decision by @ugc_india and senselessly backed by @HRDMinistry. None of the issues of students is actually being addressed.”

Delhi University Teachers Association, or DUTA, has also “condemned” the new guidelines as it jeopardises the health of lakhs of students by conducting exams amid the pandemic.

DUTA has been demanding the cancellation of the online open-book exam, or OBE, scheduled to commence from July 10.

The National Students Union of India intends to burn the MHA order on exams at its office today and the left-leaning groups, Students’ Federation of India and All India Students’ Association, have all issued statements against the decision.

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