All Universities have been asked to not conduct offline examinations in the month of may in view of the prevailing covid situation in the country by the University Grants Commission. Stressing on the health and safety of all individuals involved, the notice said, “Keeping in view the current scenario of COVID-19, it is requested that Higher Education Institutions may keep the offline examinations in abeyance during May to avoid physical gathering at the campuses and also provide much-needed relief to students, faculty and staff….” the UGC said.
In a similar notification, the Education Ministry had earlier issued orders to all centrally funded institutions (IITs, IIITs, NITs, etc.) to refrain from conducting examinations in the month of May. The Ministry also said that suspending offline exams will be reviewed in the first week of June. This notification included only centrally funded institutions, but the new UGC guidelines include universities, including state and private universities.
The notice also said that HEIs might relook the situation in the next month and take appropriate decisions regarding this matter.
HEIs have been advised by the UGC to suitably assess local conditions and decide to conduct online examinations if they are appropriately prepared. The circular issued says, “HEIs may decide suitably after assessing local conditions and ensuring that they are prepared in all respects following advisories/ guidelines/ directions issued by the central/state government, Ministry of Education, on UGC from time to time to prevent the spread of Covid-19 and for the safety and health of all stakeholders.”
Numerous Universities had already announced the cancellation of offline exams due to the grim COVID-19 situation in the country for graduate and postgraduate students and have resorted to alternatives such as online proctored examinations.
Students have had a hard time coping with online classes over the last year. Poor internet connectivity is an issue faced by many. It mainly affects people from low-income families as they might not be able to afford high-speed internet. Lack of focus is also a significant problem as homes are not the most conducive environments for studying. The enormous increase in screen time is also a cause for concern.
This is the reason many students are requesting a short break from their Universities. A lot of students have a sick family member to take care of. This affects mental health and is physically consuming.
Cancellation of examinations, for the time being, is another student demand. They say it is not possible to study for exams in such a situation productively. Alternative forms of evaluation can be considered to grade a student’s performance in these difficult times. These methods include online assignments, research papers, projects, discussions etc.
The UGC also clarified that no guidelines for semester exams had been issued by it, as some social media posts claimed. The statement said, “It has come to our notice that incorrect news regarding UGC guidelines on examinations has been published in the print and digital media. UGC has not yet issued any guidelines on examinations recently and the news is incorrect.”