From DU to JNTU, Why Students All Over Are Opposing College Exams

Lodged within the confines of a quarantine centre in Manipur, 22-year-old Kai has spent the last two days in absolute gloom. But this feeling of anxiety does not entirely stem from fears of contracting the novel coronavirus, given the presence of a suspected case at the facility.

Adding to the woes of this final-year engineering student at Hyderabad’s Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University (JNTU) is the fact that he must travel back to his varsity by 20 June, in order to appear for the final exam of his degree course.

Precarious as his predicament might be, Kai is not the only one feeling dejected. Thousands of kilometres away from him in Bihar, Rajneesh has been praying to the weather gods to keep the seasonal gusts away in July, just so that he can charge his smartphone.

Also Read: Nixing Final Yr College Exams Will Risk Students’ Future: Maha Guv

The final-year student at the University of Delhi (DU) would have to appear for an Online Book Examination, for which he needs a device and a stable internet connection. “But, if there’s no electricity, how will I charge my phone?” he asks.

Students in Gujarat, Telangana, Karnataka Say No to Exams

Plagued by these problems – and buoyed by Maharashtra’s decision to evaluate final year students on the basis of scores of the previous semester – students from different universities across India have now taken to social media to demand that exams be postponed or cancelled, since the situation is not conducive.

And there are a multitude of reasons. Whether online or offline, students across universities say they are not opposed to the idea of exams, but have reservations about the way they are being planned without taking their interests and safety into consideration.

Moreover, many say that online classes have not been as effective, and as a result, a large part of their syllabus has not been completed.

The lack of devices and stable internet in many places have only made students more wary of online exams.

Further, many do not have the required study material with them and wonder how they will study for the exams. And those being asked to appear for online exams wonder how they will travel to their respective college and come back home, without being exposed to the virus.

85% Against OBE in DU

At the University of Delhi, it is access that remains the major hurdle.

According to a survey conducted by the Delhi University Teachers Association, over 85 percent students said that they are not in favour of the Online Open Book Examination (OBE).

The survey found that around 33.7 percent were not able to attend online classes though Google Meet, Zoom or any other application and around 38 percent students in DU have not been able to access reading material online, even if it been provided to them

  • 6.7 percent have no internet connection
  • 10.9 percent have only have 2G mobile internet
  • 8.3 percent have no smartphone, laptop or tablet
  • 74 percent have only smartphone
  • Only 15.3 percent have laptops

The problems at the University of Delhi has prompted NSUI to launch a Change.org petition. “DU Must end the uncertainty around exams and promote students of all semesters without exams and waive-off college fees,” said NSUI General Secretary Lokesh Chugh.

Mayhem in Manipal Over Suspicious Software

And then there are other issues.

Students of Karnataka’s Manipal Academy of Higher Education have asked the institute to call off online examinations scheduled to begin from 8 June, as the software required to appear for the exam only supports Windows and does not work on other operating systems.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, a final-year student of the Manipal Institute of Technology said that PEXA, the software in question, comes loaded with a malware.

"“Firstly, the software only works on (Microsoft) Windows. Those who don’t have laptops running on other OS, how will they arrange for a Windows laptop during lockdown? That too, during lockdown? Also, we found the software also infects the computer with Trojan, a malware that can misuse an internet connection for criminal acts.”" - Student, MITThe Offline Offensive

While online exams come with their own share of problems, offline exams too have drawn criticism in Gujarat and Telangana, especially amid reports of rising cases in India.

Although Gujarat Technical University has said that final year exams conducted by it will be held in July, students have been demanding the exams be called off and students be promoted en mass as only 50 percent of their syllabus has been completed.

"“We are not opposed to writing exams, but only 50 percent of our syllabus could be completed before lockdown and the rest was supposedly completed online. In a place like Surat, if one student tests positive for COVID-19, who will take responsibility?”" - Rohit Talaviya, Fourth-Year Student, GTU

In Hyderabad’s JNTU, final-year students are worried as to how they will reach college for offline exams commencing from 20 June. Sha Faisal, a third-year student, has been stuck inside a containment zone in Navi Mumbai and wonders how exactly he will reach Hyderabad.

“I am in a containment zone. How will I travel to Hyderabad, that too, during this pandemic?” asks Faisal.

Just like Maharashtra, he says that JNTU should look at passing all students on the basis scores of the previous semester. “Most of the recruiters consider projects that we have already completed. So, there’s no question of not testing requisite skills.” he adds.

Final-Year Exams Will Definitely Happen: HRD Minister

Although students have been demanding that final year exams be scrapped, the proposal may not sit well with the University Grants Commission (UGC). In an advisory to colleges, the UGC had said that universities may conduct final-year terminal examinations in July, while exploring different ways.

For the first and second year, UGC had given universities the option to evaluate students on the basis of internal assessment and scores of the previous semester, only if the situation did not return to normal.

Meanwhile, in a recent webinar, Union Human Resource Development Minister Dr Ramesh Pokhriyal said that while exams for first and second year students could be replaced by internal evaluation, exams for final year students would “definitely happen.”

Also Read: College Final Year Exams Will Be Conducted For Sure: HRD Minister

. Read more on Education by The Quint.Sunday View: The Best Weekend Opinion Reads, Curated Just For YouRSS & BJP’s Nehru-Netaji ‘Cosplay’: Irony Dies a Thousand Deaths . Read more on Education by The Quint.