Six States Against Conducting University Exams Amid Covid-19, HRD Says Student Evaluation Crucial

With six states expressing reservations against conducting final year examinations in universities in view of the COVID-19 situation, the HRD Ministry has asserted that the guidelines issued by the UGC have to be followed mandatorily and academic evaluation of students is crucial to ensure credibility and career opportunities.

Last week, the University Grants Commission (UGC) in its revised guidelines directed the higher education institutions that final year examinations would be conducted in the month of September 2020, instead of July 2020, as per its guidelines announced in April.

Punjab, Maharashtra, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Delhi have announced reservations against the plan citing the COVID-19 situation.

"The guidelines have not stated that the exams have to be conducted right away, the exams have to be concluded by September end. States can devise a calendar whenever it is feasible to conduct exams in this timeline. Also, the exams can be conducted either online, offline or in blended mode. Totally doing away with exams is not a feasible situation. The UGC guidelines are binding in nature," a senior HRD Ministry official said.

"Academic evaluation of students is a very important milestone in any education system. The performance in examinations gives confidence and satisfaction to the students and is a reflection of competence, performance and credibility that is necessary for global acceptability," the official added.

The HRD ministry may meet state education secretaries this week to ensure uniformity with regard to final assessment of students pursuing degrees.

"As per the UGC Act, the directive by the commission is binding. As of now the plan to conduct exams is very much in place. The Ministry is open to discussing the concerns with states and work out a feasible solution but academic credibility cannot be compromised.

"Top-ranking universities of the world have opted for final exams to be done remotely. Like Princeton and MIT, University of Cambridge, Imperial College of London, University of Toronto and McMaster, University of Heidelberg and University of Hong Kong have resorted to the online technology-based model of conducting exams," the official added.

The UGC guidelines of April and the revised guidelines of July changed the examination window from July to September. However, it directed all higher education institutions to conduct the terminal semester or final year examinations either offline, online or in blended mode.

The first and second year students were exempted from the exams and will be assessed based on previous semester performance and internal assessments.

Universities and schools across the country have been closed since March 16, when the Centre announced a nationwide classroom shutdown as one of the measures to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

A nationwide lockdown was announced on March 24, which came into effect the next day. While the government has eased several restrictions, schools and colleges continue to remain closed.

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