A day after University Grants Commission (UGC) announced compulsory exams for final-year students based on the recommendations of an internal committee, Maharashtra Higher and Technical Education Minister Uday Samant wrote to Union HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal, stating that in his opinion the July 6 guidelines are not mandatory but “mere advisory like the earlier guidelines”.
In his letter to the Union minister, Samant has also asked for uniform guidelines for awarding degrees to final-year students based on an appropriate formula.
Pointing out that Maharashtra is the most-affected state with more than two lakh confirmed Covid-19 cases, Samant in his letter said that the state government had taken the decision to cancel final-year exams based on earlier UGC guidelines that empowered the government to issue directions to universities and colleges regarding examinations.
“In such unforeseen, uncertain and critically challenging situation, conduct of final-year exams for approximately more than 10 lakh students seems highly infeasible and, if conducted, would endanger the wellbeing of students, parents, teachers, supporting staff and other machinery involved in the process,” Samant stated in his letter.
On June 26, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray had announced cancellation of all final-year exams in the state for non-professional courses (BA, BCom, BSc, among others), and had requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to instruct apex councils to endorse its view to cancel exams for professional courses too. A government notification to this effect was released on June 19.
The UGC on Monday announced that “the final term exams are to be compulsorily conducted as per the UGC guidelines on examinations and academic calendar for the universities”, as per the Standard Operating Procedure approved by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. It also stated that the exams should be conducted by the end of September in either online, offline or in blended mode.
Shiv Sena’s youth arm Yuva Sena took on the BJP for the announcement. “Exams in September mean effectively losing all postgraduate jobs and education opportunities for this year. So many have already secured admissions abroad or have job placements. How does the BJP justify that?” tweeted Yuva Sena secretary Varun Sardesai.
In a separate letter to the HRD minister, Yuva Sena pointed out the state government gave an option for voluntary exams, which was accepted by the students and education fraternity. It also pointed to various constraints that will arise in case exams are conducted.
The youth wing started an online petition to urge the Centre to cancel final-year exams.
BJP’s youth wing Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad endorsed UGC’s announcement. National secretary Aniket Ovhal said, “As per the instructions given by the UGC, keeping the health interests of the students at the forefront, if offline exams are not possible, then evaluating the students online and some other similar modes will end the whole mess. We expect the Maharashtra government to not interfere in this decision.”
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