With less than two weeks left for the chartered accountancy exams, there is yet to be a consensus between students and the exam conducting body Institute of Chartered Accountants (ICAI). Many students complain that their exam centres have fallen into a containment zone while others claim to have been allotted an under-repair building or an empty workshop. Many candidates also claim to have been allotted exam centre in a different state altogether. While the ICAI denies any exam centre allotted in a containment zone, it also claims to have “already changed more than 20 examination centres.”
Several students still alleged unresolved issues regarding the upcoming exams. A final-year CA student from Mumbai claims to have got an exam centre in Hoogly, Kolkata. The student said that when he contacted the authorities he was asked to wait for another week, however, the issue is yet to be resolved. “I am a final year student and I cannot waste the last days of the exam contacting the authorities again and again. My family has concerns over sending me from Mumbai to Kolkata for the exam amid the pandemic. I still have no clarity if it would be changed at all or not. With so little time left, I want to focus on my studies rather than spending time on connecting with authorities over such issues,” said the student on condition of anonymity.
A total of 4,71,619 students will be appearing for the CA exams starting from November 21 across 1,085 exam centres. ICAI claims that the maximum students appearing on any single day would be approximately 1,52,000 students and the average comes to 147 students per exam centre.
ICAI has also given an option to students to opt-out of the exams if they show symptoms of the virus or anyone in their family contracts the COVID or the area a student resides in gets converted into a contaminated zone. This too is hailed as biased by many students who say they do not feel safe while appearing for the exam amid the pandemic or do not trust the preparations. A section of students has taken to Twitter to protest with hashtags including #icaiexams, #ICAI_denies_equality trending since the admit cards have been released.
“There is no question of unequal opportunities and by providing ‘opt-out’ option to all students, the whole purpose of ‘opt-out’ option will be lost,” the authorities said while responding to queries raised by indianexpress.com.
Students, however, claim that the option should be extended to everyone who is unable to make it to the exam centre due to legit reasons.
“I have very low immunity and have been in my house for over 8 months now. I had left my job to prepare for the final exams in May which were cancelled and merged with the November attempt due to the pandemic. Since then I have not left home. I do not have covid but am at high risk because of my health concerns but there is no rebate for me, I cannot opt-out for the exam,” said a Hyderabad-based student.
“To ensure safety when I contacted the exam centres after being issued admit card, I found that the school building is under repair and the authorities were not aware that their school has been set-up as an exam centre. Some of my friends who were allotted the same location have received an email regarding a change of location but I have not received any such update. With so less preparedness my family and I have concerns regarding my health but I have already wasted a lot of time,” she told indianexpress.com.
Students have also been demanding an isolated room for symptomatic students and transport arrangements. A group of candidates had filed a writ petition demanding the same along with allowing holding the exam online and allowing admit cards to be considered as an e-permit during their travel and from the exam hall.
The ICAI had informed the court and issued a statement claiming that it will not offer any separate room for candidates showing symptoms as “this is neither possible nor desirable in the larger interest of other candidates, staff etc to allow persons showing covid symptoms to enter the examination centres.”
The exam conducting authorities also claim to have opened more than 600 centres in 200 new cities with “standby buffer centres in case of emergency to accommodate candidates in unforeseen situations”. It added in an official statement, “ICAI is committed to conducting the examinations in a safe and secure environment by observing necessary guidelines issued by the Govt like maintaining the social distance between candidates, sanitization of the premises, checking the temperature of the candidates.”
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