UGC Guidelines Impact: Postponed exams, confusion in states

UGC Guidelines Impact: Postponed exams, confusion in states
Abhay Anand | Jul 9, 2020 - 6:32 p.m. IST
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NEW DELHI: Since the University Grants Commission (UGC) came up with the revised exam-related guidelines for final year students on July 6, universities around the country have started issuing directives postponing examinations scheduled in July or August. Some that were considering cancelling are now planning exams. States that had cancelled university exams are either holding them again or writing to the central government in protest.

The rising number of positive COVID-19 cases had led to students across the country demanding that final-year and end-semester university exams be cancelled. On social media, they tagged their posts with ‘#StudentsLivesMatter’. The UGC’s guidelines on exams, admissions and academic calendar from April had allowed universities to hold exams. Despite the human resource development minister, Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ hinting that a cancellation might be in the works, the UGC issued its revised guidelines on Monday directing universities to hold exams in online, offline or blended mode by the end of September.

The revised UGC guidelines came within hours of the ministry of home affairs clearing the way for exams conducted following all standard operating procedures (SOPs) of the MHA and health ministry.

At least five major universities, central and state, in Delhi, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Kerala have postponed exams.

States that cancelled exams

Prior to the UGC guidelines, as many as seven major states – Punjab, Maharashtra, Haryana, Rajasthan, Kerala, West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh had decided to cancel the final-year exams due to COVID-19.

Some of them are now in a conundrum -- the UGC’s “guidelines” suggest compulsory exams. On July 6, the ministry of human resource development wrote to all state education secretaries telling them exams “should be compulsorily conducted as per UGC guidelines”.

Maharashtra’s higher education minister, Uday Samant, has written to the Centre in protest, arguing that guidelines can only be “advisory” in nature. Earlier, state chief minister, Uddhav Thackeray had announced the cancellation of final-year examinations due to COVID-19 and written to prime minister Narendra Modi seeking central directions that “endorse” the states’ stand on these matters. The Centre has not obliged.

Punjab chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh has announced he will write to PM Modi and home minister Amit Shah seeking cancellation of exams.

Odisha's department of higher education announced on social media that the state government has written to MHRD "requesting to reconsider the revised guidelines of UGC and not to make conduct of UG & PG final term exams mandatory. MHRD has been requested to allow the State Government to adhere to its decision of cancellation of these exams".

Gujarat reversed its July 1 decision to cancel exams and told all its state-run universities to hold them by September. Gujarat government issued a notice to all state-run universities on July 8 directing them to organise final-year examinations by September 30. Those planning to study abroad may write their tests online in July. Gujarat had announced and cancelled final year exams on July 1, reported the Press Trust of India.

Even the former UGC chairman, Sukhadeo Thorat, has opposed the move and forwarded to the present chairman, DP Singh an appeal that describes the UGC decision "unfortunate" and one that "takes us backwards rather than forward".

Delhi University OBE postponed to August

The University of Delhi which is facing severe criticism for the way it has planned to conduct the online open book examinations for final-year students has postponed it by a month, to August. DU, on July 8, informed the Delhi High Court and later issued a notification, that it has decided to postpone the OBE again, till after August 15. The OBE exams for final-year UG and PG students were scheduled to be held from July 10.

The varsity also informed that the new notification for the conduct of the examinations along with the revised date sheets and other information will be updated on the official website of the university in due course.

Rajasthan University exam postponed

After the UGC’s revised guidelines were issued, Rajasthan University issued a notification cancelling the earlier issued date sheet of final year exam. The final year examination was scheduled to begin from July 15. The university has said any further decision will be taken based on the instructions from the state government.

Mumbai University: Minister demands cancellation

The Centre is yet to respond to the Maharashtra education minister, Uday Samant's request. However, the student union of Mumbai University is also opposing the UGC directive on examination, demanding its cancellation. According to reports, the university authorities are still looking at various possibilities of conducting examinations by September.

MG University Exam Postponed

The day UGC came up with its directive, MG University Kerala decided to postpone the pending semester examinations in the district of Thiruvananthapuram after the state government decided to impose a lockdown in the district.

As per the exam schedule announced earlier, MGU Kerala was planning to commence the semester examinations for all students from July 6. The university in its revised directive announced that it will hold exams in other districts except for Thiruvananthapuram, as per schedule. The university will soon issue the revised dates for the pending exams.

AKTU may hold Exam in September

Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Technical University which had earlier sent a proposal to the Uttar Pradesh government to promote final year students without exams is now planning to hold the examination in September.

After the UGC revised guidelines came, AKTU started preparing for the examination for final year students. A senior official, asking not to be named, told Careers360 that the university is also reworking its marking scheme for questions and reducing the number of questions per section. It is also finalising examination centres to conduct the examination as per the MoHFW SOP.

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