Days after Higher and Technical Education Minister Uday Samant announced that final-year and final semester exams for non-agricultural state university students will be held in July, the minister has done a U-turn by writing to the University Grants Commission (UGC) about the government’s difficulty in conducting the exams in view of the extension of the lockdown and the risk it poses to the students.
The letter dated May 17 to the UGC chairman stated, “In view of Covid-19 pandemic situation in Maharashtra, as per recommendations of state level committee, conducting exams of approximately 8 lakh to 10 lakh students from all across Maharashtra and India, by maintaining all safety protocols, seems very challenging and may endanger the safety and health of the students. Hence, I am of the opinion that the terminal (final) examinations should not be conducted this year.”
The minister requested the UGC to consider promoting undergraduate and postgraduate students of final year without conducting exams, while also seeking guidelines on the issue.
The move comes days after Tourism Minister Aaditya Thackeray urged UGC Chairman D P Singh to cancel final-year and final semester exams. “Final-year students are under tremendous stress as to how to face exams with the health risk they pose. We request UGC to consider cancelling all exams, including final semester,” he had tweeted.
Based on UGC guidelines and recommendations of a state-level committee, Sawant had on May 8 announced that exams for final-year as well as final semester for graduate and postgraduate students in non-agricultural state universities will be conducted between July 1 and July 30. All other students of state universities and affiliated colleges will be promoted based on their previous semester’s performance and marks obtained in the semester’s internal exams.
Students’ organisations had pointed out that the minister’s move was ill-founded, as UGC in its guidelines has not made conducting exams for final year and final semester students mandatory. Point 5 of the UGC guidelines had stated: “For immediate/year exams, the universities may conduct examinations, after making a comprehensive assessment of their level of preparedness, residential status of the students, status of Covid-19 pandemic spread in different regions/state and other factors.”
Maharashtra Students Union president Siddharth Ingle said, “Don’t know why the minister has written to the UGC when education is a state subject. UGC has not mandated the states to conduct exams, and the liberty has been given to state universities.”
When contacted, an official from UGC said there is no compuslion on states to conduct the exams.
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