When Allahabad University announced the holding of offline exams on March 24, it sparked widespread protests.
University officials countered that the decision was ‘consistent with restoring normality’ and was taken after a high-level committee – formed to review student representations against offline exams – submitted its report in favor of paper and pen exams.
🗞️ Subscribe now: get Express Premium to access the best election reports and analysis 🗞️
University public relations officer Jaya Kapoor said: “Some protesting students doused themselves with gasoline and it became a public order situation. The district administration asked the vice chancellor to reconsider the students’ requests. So, on March 25, it was decided that all second-year students would be promoted and that the exams for third-year students would be held online. »
Most Indian universities have a semester system, with exams at the end of each semester – in May-June and November-December. This time, several universities have decided to hold offline exams for the semester ending May-June 2022. But with little clarity on accommodation arrangements, exam schedules and hybrid course schedules, the decision was met with opposition in most states.
On April 13, Maharashtra’s Minister of Higher and Technical Education, Uday Samant, announced an additional 15 minutes for every hour students take an offline exam.
Since February 28, students and faculty at Visva-Bharati University in Santiniketan, West Bengal have been protesting the decision to hold offline exams without reopening all student residences.
“The majority of students lived in hostels. Initially, when the hostels were not operational and groups of seniors started taking offline classes on December 1, 2021, students rented rooms. As there is limited accommodation available in the Santiniketan area, freshmen were unable to find accommodation when their offline classes resumed on February 1. They have continued to take online courses and are now hesitant to take offline exams,” said Somnath Sow, a final year undergraduate student in economics at Visva-Bharati University.
“The 26-day movement has helped us secure our applications and online reviews will start on April 18. The request to reopen hostels has been officially granted, but in reality things are still unclear, so protests are continue,” Chaiti said. , a student in the art history department of the university.
Vice Chancellor Bidyut Chakrabarty declined to comment.
Lack of accommodation is also the reason why engineering students at Kolkata-based Jadavpur University have protested against the decision to hold offline exams.
“Students in their final semester don’t want to move from their hometown for the few remaining months of their course. Also, no one is ready to rent out their property for a few months,” said Akash Sekh, a second-year master’s student in international relations.
However, the university has already released the exam schedule offline and for some courses the exams will start on April 24.
Calls to VC Suranjan Das University went unanswered.
More than 1,500 km away, at the University of Delhi, students are demanding that their end-of-semester exams take place online. The university reopened in February and also decided to hold offline exams for second, fourth and sixth semester students.
The semester exams for the first, third and fifth semesters will be administered in online OBE mode.
“The offline exam notification was released on February 9 and students have been protesting ever since. The majority of the courses were taken online and we took just over two months of offline courses. Thus, the mode of examination should be revised,” said Himani Singh, a sixth-semester majoring in Home Science at DU’s Lady Irwin College.
However, DU Dean of Student Welfare Pankaj Arora said: “To get back to normal, we have to go back to offline exams.”
He said: “Due to Covid the ‘odd’ semester has been shorter than usual and we have decided to keep their exams online. The even semester offline exam duration has been increased by 30 minutes. The university is also willing to issue a directive to individual colleges to hold mock tests.
In Maharashtra, confusion over the format of the final exam has sparked a debate. The Maharashtra Student Welfare Association (MSWA) has launched a social media campaign to ‘uniformize’ the assessment format after writing to the Chief Minister.
“Graduating students will compete with each other for admission to graduate school and the job market. If their assessment is done in different formats, the competition will not be fair,” said Vaibhav Edke, President of MSWA.
While Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU) and Rashtrasanta Tukdoji Maharaj Nagpur University will hold offline exams, Mumbai University has announced a “more blended approach” – traditional course exams will be online, while for professional courses, they will be offline. Also, many stand-alone colleges in Mumbai have decided to hold final exams offline.
“For professional courses, students were writing descriptive answers anyway for 60 points out of 100 for the last two exams. The only difference is that instead of writing it at home, they will sit for exams at their respective colleges,” said Vinod Patil, Director of Examinations and Assessment Board, Mumbai University.
Against students’ demand for ‘uniformity’, he said: ‘In any case, there can be no parity because courses, syllabus, examination pattern and assessment methods are different in different universities. “.