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From on-campus medical facilities to digital infra: Students’ post-pandemic wish list for universities

A quick-response team of medical staff on campus, digital libraries and following a blended mode of learning are among the top expectations of students who will be joining undergraduate courses during academic session 2021-22.

Written by Sheetal Banchariya | New Delhi |
Updated: June 17, 2021 10:32:33 am
how to chose right college for admission, best private colleges, best college for low scorer, college admission, college admissions, best colleges for admission, education newsClass 12 students want universities to follow objective criteria for undergraduate admissions this year. File.

As Class 12 board exams have been cancelled, and students will be graded as per a new method, the focus is now shifting to university admissions. In a post-Covid world, factors influencing a student’s decision of choosing an institute seem to have taken a 360-degree shift.

“We have been rudely thrust into the digital age without much time for preparation. Now, we expect the universities to keep up with the changing trends, and ensure that the quality of education is not diluted by infrastructure, or a lack thereof. All institutes must have their learning management systems (LMS) in place as it is necessary for successful remote learning,” said Sarthak Vedant Mohanty, Class 12 student, KIIT International School, Bhubaneshwar.

Read | With India seeing a surge in Covid-19 cases, students stressed about exams and future prospects

Quality teachers and ranking of a varsity will continue to be a concern for students, but several other requirements have become part of the checklist amid the coronavirus outbreak.

“During online learning amid pandemic, we have missed out on in-person interaction with our teachers. Henceforth, students will prefer smaller batches over huge crowds in classrooms. The student-intake capacity of a university will play a major role. While institutes must follow a blended-learning approach since the beginning of college, having a resourceful library will add to our learning experience. They must also develop a digital library of their own,” said Vaishnavi Shivani, Class 12 student at Heritage School, Gurgaon.

There is a need for universities to partner up with the government to vaccinate and protect its student population, teachers and staff in the event of physical classes, added Sarthak. “A quick-response team of medical staff should also have a 24/7 presence on campus; whether such healthcare provision is done by the private or public sector is entirely at the university’s discretion. With the implementation of these measures, we will be able to study without any fear,” he said.

Also Read | What lies ahead for admissions in foreign and Indian universities amid second COVID-19 wave

Sasi Menon, Professor and Dean of School of Design, Sushant University, Gurugram, said that there is a growing concern among students regarding the practical portions of the course and the university has been receiving queries for the same.

“Since everything has shifted to online mode, students are wanting to make sure that they make themselves aware of all the aspects of a course before enrolling. Courses such as design, architecture, film and media have plenty of hands-on activities as part of the curriculum, hence students and parents are trying to understand how these concepts will be taught in online or blended mode,” he added.

Menon also said that a few queries related to examinations have also been shared with the varsity. These queries have largely been raised by parents of outstation students as they would not want to face any challenges with assessment procedures later if exams are to be held online again.

The rise of online education has also highlighted the need for adequate digital infrastructure, which is largely missing in rural parts of the country. Students from remote areas are hoping to have support from their respective colleges to continue with the online learning if we face similar circumstances again in future.

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Jeenu Dudi studies in Sriram Ucch Madhyamik Vidyalaya in Jakharawali village of Hanumangarh district in Rajasthan and has no access to the internet in her village.

“Neither do we have laptops nor access to the internet, we expect universities to prepare academic plans while keeping our conditions in mind. We should be given a proper schedule of studies at the beginning of the semester. So, even if we have to move to an online mode of learning, we will know how to go about completing our syllabus. Institutes in rural areas should also try to provide mobile phones or laptops equipped with the required software and pre-recorded classes,” said 18-year-old, Jeenu.

Amid the online mode of education, students have missed all kinds of outdoor activities for more than a year. “We have been bored of ‘all study and no play’ for a long time. As universities will start functioning, sooner or later, the fests and events will be a major aspect for me to pick an institute. Along with classes, every institute must have a functional gym as the coronavirus has highlighted the importance of physical fitness,” said Kuhu Verma, Class 12 student of Nirmal Bhartiya Public School, Dwarka, New Delhi.

Parents are also inquiring about the Covid-appropriate infrastructure at different universities.

Hrridaysh Deshpande, vice chancellor, Ajeenkya DY Patil University, Pune, said, “Parents have concerns regarding the return of students to residential campuses if and whenever the situation is conducive. We have received plenty of queries where students and parents have asked about the isolation facilities at the campus if any students contracts virus. While we have accommodation on single and double sharing, their fee is also different. Parents seem to be willing to spend money on students’ health and safety.”

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