Updated: June 4, 2021 6:48:49 pm
For the last few weeks, medical students from the Maharashtra University of Health Sciences (MUHS) have been protesting against the decision of the university and state government to conduct written exams in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. Citing risk to life and fear of contracting the infection, the students have been running a sustained social media campaign and have even filed a case in the Bombay High Court, which is expected to come up for hearing soon.
However, the university authorities said that cancellation of offline exams is not an option since the students are future doctors and are expected to step up in an emergency situation. Exams for second-year medical students are expected to start from June 10.
Dr Nitin Karmalkar, acting vice-chancellor of MUHS, said he was aware of the students’ demands but it was not possible to accept them. “There was a meeting about 10 days ago chaired by Minister of Medical Education Amit Deshmukh, and attended by the director and secretary of the state Medical Education department, me and others. The ministry decided to go ahead with the exams. The comparison with the decision to cancel Class 12 and 10 exams, which students are doing, is unreasonable… these are medical students who will go on to be doctors, who are expected to handle emergency duties. This is an important and noble profession, we can’t conduct remote exams for these students. Since their number is small, we can ensure strict social distancing and complete Covid protocol while students come to examination centres,” he said.
Meanwhile, the students cited the example of Dr Rahul Pawar, a medical student at Maharashtra Institute of Medical Science and Research in Latur, who died recently. The student had started showing symptoms of Covid-19 infection a few days after completing his final examination in April.
“We are not scared of exams but we also have families. The university can conduct the exams one month after vaccinating all of us,” said a student from Ambejogai.
Many students have also been complaining about the strict lockdown situation in their districts, making it difficult for them to reach exam centres. Rohit Salunkhe, one of the students, tweeted, “My examination centre is 65 km away from where I live. Public and private transport is currently closed due to the lockdown. Please tell us how to reach the examination centre?”
Sumaiya Nadeem, another medical student, tweeted that her flight from Kolkata to Pune has been cancelled and she is now looking for another flight. She said she will also have to repeat her RT- PCR test, mandatory before boarding flights.
Asked about students who are stuck in other cities, Karmalkar said that they were not supposed to leave for their hometowns in the first place. “Our hostels and campus are safe places; students knew exams are approaching so they were supposed to be here. In any case, if students are facing difficulties due to transport and lockdown, they can approach us. I have personally not received any application so far in this regard,” he said.
All colleges and institutions imparting education in health sciences in Maharashtra are affiliated to the Maharashtra University of Health Sciences (MUHS), headquartered in Nashik. It offers undergraduate and postgraduate studies and research in modern medicine and Indian systems of medicine, including undergraduate degrees like Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS), Bachelor of Ayurveda, Medicine and Surgery (BAMS), Bachelor of Homeopathic Medicine and Surgery (BHMS), Bachelor of Unani Medicine and Surgery (BUMS), as well as degrees in dental and nursing courses.
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