Online college exams a ‘remote possibility’ as UGC officials highlight a host of concerns


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New Delhi: Online exams at Indian universities appear to be a distant possibility amid the Covid-19 lockdown, as the University Grants Commission (UGC) believes India lacks the means to conduct them, ThePrint has learned.

Most central universities have had to postpone their final exams, which usually take place in March and April, due to restrictions put in place to curb the spread of the deadly novel coronavirus.

Last week, the UGC formed a seven-member committee, headed by Haryana University Vice-Chancellor RC Kuhad, to consider higher education issues such as exams and continuing the academic session. . This committee also seems to be against the idea of ​​holding exams online, as they believe India does not have the required infrastructure for this.

The committee, which is supposed to submit its report to the government by today, April 13, is still prepared to do so. But sources familiar with the developments said the committee was not in favor of online exams, a thought also echoed by UGC officials. Instead, discussions are underway to postpone exams until colleges and universities can reopen.

Committee head Kuhad told ThePrint: “We have received serious concerns and various suggestions regarding the conduct of reviews, and we are working to find a solution. “

Read also : New academic calendar, holidays, how to take university exams – last task for the Modi government

UGC officials summarize their concerns

A senior UGC official, who declined to be named, explained the problem with conducting online exams in India.

“Online exams at universities seem like a distant possibility, as we don’t have a mechanism to conduct exams in online mode. In addition, many students live in rural areas or in areas that do not have proper access to facilities. How will they be able to take exams? Said the official.

“These are the questions that the committee faces and who opposes the idea of ​​having exams online. What they are considering, instead, is suggesting that universities hold exams after June, once schools and colleges are open. We also agree with the idea that universities are not able to organize exams online, ”added the official.

A second UGC official approved. “There are thousands of students at various universities in India. It will be difficult to organize online exams for such a large number of students across the country due to the lack of infrastructure, ”said the official.

“How will universities ensure that students don’t cheat sitting at home?” How will they ensure that this facility is not misused? There are a lot of concerns that stakeholders will need to consider. “

UGC Secretary Rajnish Jain told ThePrint that as soon as the committee submits its report to the government and receives approval from the Department of Human Resources Development, “a formal announcement will be made that all universities will follow suit.” .

Read also : IITs and IIMs ready for all possible scenarios after US company cancels jobs amid Covid-19

Teachers also oppose online exams

Teachers’ organizations have also called on the government not to hold online exams.

The Delhi University Faculty Association expressed its apprehension in a statement released on Sunday, saying: “The online education model cannot substitute for regular classroom teaching. This does not work in a country where internet connectivity and smartphones are limited to one class of students. “

Akhil Bharatiya Rashtriya Shaikshik Mahasangh (ABRSM), a teachers’ body affiliated with RSS, also made several suggestions to UGC regarding exams and academic sessions, but did not speak about the online exams.

“The first preference should be given to the completion of exams for the last semester / year of graduation and after the opening of HEIs (higher education institutions). The decision on how to conduct exams other than the final exam should be left to the universities, but mass promotion should be avoided, ”the body said in a letter to UGC.

“Examinations can be conducted by administering questions through multiple choice questions in OMR sheets to facilitate early results,” he added.

DU preparing for online exams

Universities have a certain autonomy to decide on the holding of exams, but most of them await the UGC directive in an unprecedented situation like this.

Delhi University, for example, has already started preparations for holding exams online, despite uncertainty over the academic calendar and opposition from its teachers’ union. But he also awaits a UGC wink.

“There are over nine lakh students at Delhi University waiting to take their exams. With their future in mind, we started to prepare for the exams online. But we are still awaiting instructions from UGC to move forward with the plan, ”said Vinay Gupta, Dean of Examinations at DU.

Read also : DU didn’t pay for newspapers and online portals, can’t access them from home, teachers say

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