Final Year university examinations may be postponed until the end of September, but must be conducted in either online or offline mode, the University Grants Commission (UGC) decided on Monday evening. Students who are unable to appear for these examinations will be given the opportunity to appear for special examinations which will be conducted later, according to an official statement.
The Home Ministry has also given its approval for the conduct of the examinations in a letter to the Ministry of Human Resources Development, and directed that final term exams must be “compulsorily conducted” as per UGC guidelines.
‘Protect quality, credibility’
There had been a vociferous demand from a section of students and parents to cancel the examinations due to the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and use alternative grading mechanisms. At least seven State governments have already announced the cancellation of examinations. However, the UGC decided that it was important to “protect academic quality and credibility”, a member told The Hindu, adding that State governments would also be asked to comply with the new guidelines.
“The terminal semester/final year examinations [are to] be conducted by universities/institutions by the end of September 2020 in offline (pen and paper)/online/blended (online + offline) mode as per feasibility and suitability,” said the fresh guidelines. “In case a student of terminal semester/final year is unable to appear in the examination conducted by the University for whatever the reason may be, he/she may be given opportunity to appear in special examinations for such courses/papers, which may be conducted by the university as and when feasible, so that the student is not put to any inconvenience/disadvantage. The above provision shall be applicable only for the current academic session 2019-20 as a one-time measure.”
Also for backlogs
Final year students with backlogs must also be evaluated through online or offline examinations. The rules for intermediate semesters remain unchanged, meaning that either internal assessment or examinations may be conducted.
While noting the importance of health, safety and fair opportunity for students, UGC said it was “very crucial to ensure academic credibility, career opportunities and future progress of students globally”. A UGC member said the situation was compared to the Emergency era, when examinations were cancelled and degrees awarded without examinations, leading to a lot of questions being raised on the quality of education. “We wished to avoid a similar situation,” said the member who did not wish to be named.
As the UGC is responsible for academic regulation and policy for the whole country, it will write to State Governors, who are Chancellors of State Universities, as well as State Chief Secretaries and Education Ministers to ask that they comply with the fresh guidelines, said the member.
The Home Ministry also gave its backing. “The final Term Examinations are to be compulsorily conducted as per the UGC Guidelines on Examinations and Academic Calendar for the Universities; and as per the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) approved by the Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare,” said an official statement.
Discussions on calendar
The UGC also held discussions on a revised academic calendar. It plans to recommend that admissions be completed by November and the new academic session be started by December 1, according to a UGC member.