Uncertainty over conducting final year or final semester exams for students continued Saturday even as Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray held a discussion with the members of a state-level committee comprising vice-chancellors of various state universities.
As per the statement released by Chief Minister’s Office, Thackeray issued directives to explore the legal possibility of promoting final year students based on average marks of the previous academic year as well as conducting optional exams for students keen on improving their grades. He asked the vice-chancellors to explore different alternatives before announcing exam procedure and timetable, keeping in mind the safety concerns around coronavirus pandemic.
State Higher Education Minister, Uday Samant, said that a decision on the issue will be announced after two days. Minister of State Prajakt Tanpure, Chief Secretary Ajoy Mehta, Education Department secretary Saurabh Vijay and Director of Technical Education Abhay Wagh and other senior officials also took part in the video conference.
While Thackeray is reported to have told officials about the impossibility of conducting exams in July, the stakeholders are divided in their opinion on whether final year exams should be held or not. It has been learnt that the state-level committee informally communicated their support for conducting final year exams to Samant as well as Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari. The vice-chancellors have also pointed to Thackeray the negative implications that scrapping examinations will have on university funding, UGC recognition and its ranking.
Mumbai University vice-chancellor Dr Suhas Pednekar, who heads the state-level committee, said, “All vice-chancellors feel that the report regarding conducting of exams has been submitted to the state and we cannot change it. Our role is over and the government will now have to assess the situation to make a decision.” Given that universities are autonomous bodies, the academic council of state universities take decisions regarding conducting exams. After Samant’s earlier announcement, academic councils of few universities had already endorsed the idea of conducting exams and had passed a resolution to that effect. Sources from universities Saturday questioned the state government’s move to decide on behalf of the universities. Koshyari, the chancellor of all state universities, too, had taken objection to Samant’s move of writing to the University Grants Commission (UGC) to recommend cancellation of the final year exams. Calling this an “unwarranted intervention”, Koshyari had written to Thackeray saying, “Not conducting final year examinations by the universities amounts to a breach of the UGC guidelines.”
Former MU vice-chancellor, Dr Snehlata Deshmukh has suggested other options, such as open book tests, assignment writing and multiple-choice questions as alternatives to an exam. Delaying a decision on this issue until June 20 was also suggested.
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