Delhi University postpones open book exams for final-year students by 10 days

New Delhi, Jun 27 (PTI) Delhi University on Saturday postponed the online open book exams for final-year students, which were scheduled to begin from July 1, by 10 days 'in view of the prevailing situation of COVID-19 pandemic'.

The revised datesheets for all undergraduate and postgraduate programmes will be notified on July 3, the university said.

Teachers and students have been opposing the open book exams (OBE) citing issues like absence of study material for many students and lack of internet connectivity in various parts of the country, among others.

'...all concerned are hereby informed that examinations scheduled for all final semester/term/year and ex-students as per date sheet in OBE mode examinations as an alternative mode of examinations in view of COVID-19 pandemic adopted as one-time measure for academic session 2019-20 for all streams of UG and PG including SOL and NCWEB stands postponed for ten days in view of the prevailing situation of COVID-19 pandemic,' a Delhi University notification stated.

Under the prevailing situation, all concerned stakeholders, especially students, may find it difficult to attend their scheduled activities of examinations, it said.

The new datesheets for all undergraduate and postgraduate programmes shall be notified by the university's examination branch on July 3 and examination will commence from July 10.

'The mock test to facilitate students appearing for examinations for awareness about the procedures of OBE mode, to be conducted remotely, shall start from July 4.

'A separate notification shall be issued by the examination branch regarding all the details of mock test before the commencement of the test,' the varsity said.

Student and teachers' bodies slammed the move saying that the postponement will only add to 'chaos and confusion' and demanded the cancellation of exams.

Pankaj Garg, convenor of Indian National Teachers Congress (INTEC), accused the university of making mockery of examinations for the final year students and said the coronavirus situation is not going to improve in 10 days.

'This decision would further create an atmosphere of confusion and more stress on teachers and students of Delhi University. Common Service Centres of which they are talking of again and again have no proper infrastructure and most of them are not working in present COVID-19 situation,' he said.

Problems are going to remain the same for students, 50 per cent of whom are from other states, he noted.

'The UGC must intervene and send guidelines directing cancellation of exams for final year students and that assessment should be made 50 per cent on the basis of past performance and rest 50 per cent on the basis of internal assessment of present year,' he added.

Teachers' body Academics for Action and Development (AAD) also demanded the cancellation of exams, saying that the frequent crashing of DU website and lack of mock tests clearly show that there is no sufficient preparation for conducting online open book exams.

'Lakhs of students and their parents have been made victims of policy inconsistencies being imposed by the troika of HRD, UGC and DU making decisions in top-down centralised arbitrary manner.

'The notification for postponing online OBE is another instance of rudderless, adhoc and autocratic policy decisions over the examination in which the students have reduced to be a guinea pig. This will only add to chaos and confusion on the examination front,' it said.

Academic Council member Saikat Ghosh said the postponement has to be understood in the light of 'mock test flop show on Friday'.  'The DU OBE system is clearly faulty and not able to cater to the needs of the students. The administration wants to buy time to try and rectify technical shortcomings. Hence, the postponement has no relation to students' welfare.

'It is an act of extreme selfishness on the part of the VC to insist on going ahead with the OBE despite the difficulties faced by students and the irreparable harm caused to the sanctity and credibility of the examinations process,' he said.  The Delhi University Students' Union said the varsity should be clear on whether the exams will happen or not and if the exams are happening, what will be the arrangements.

The Congress-backed National Students' Union of India also demanded the cancellation of exams.

The All India Students' Association said, 'The student-teacher movement of the time has clearly denounced the practice on any exams amidst crisis, giving a viable alternative of using the previous Grade Point Average and internals for average. Terminal semester students of DU deserve to have a chance at pen paper tests when the situation normalises.'  Union HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank' has asked the University Grants Commission (UGC) to revisit the guidelines issued earlier for intermediate and terminal semester examination, and the academic calendar.   Delhi is the worst-hit city by the COVID-19 pandemic in the country. Till Saturday, the contagious respiratory disease had infected over 80,000 people and claimed 2,558 lives in the national capital. PTI SLB  DPB