The University Grants Commission (UGC) on Thursday stood by its direction to universities and institutions to conduct final-year exams by September-end, saying the “Revised Guidelines” of July 6, 2020 offer “sufficient flexibility” and are intended “to protect the academic future of students”.
In an affidavit filed in the Supreme Court, the UGC referred to its July 6 guidelines and said they “adequately account for the evolving situation of the Covid-19 pandemic because they (a) provide sufficient time till the end of September 2020 to conduct the final year/ terminal semester examinations after following the prescribed protocols and procedures relating to Covid-19; (b) give sufficient flexibility to Universities/ institutions to conduct such examinations in online, offline (pen and paper) or blended (online + offline) mode; and (c) provide for an examination through special chance for students who for whatsoever the reason(s) may be are unable to appear for the examinations…”
The UGC also said that the guidelines “have to be adopted and applied by all Universities/ institutions in the country (including State Universities)”.
It further said “therefore, the decision of certain state governments” like Maharashtra and Delhi “to either cancel the terminal semester/ final year examinations for UG/PG students and/or to graduate such students and confer degrees without appearing for the final year/ terminal semester examinations is plainly contrary to the UGC’s Guidelines”.
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The UGC said it “has issued such guidelines to protect the academic future of students across the country which will be irreparably damaged if their final year: terminal semester examinations are not held, while also keeping in mind their health and safety”.
The affidavit, filed in response to petitions challenging the guidelines, noted that the guidelines were drawn up following a report by a committee under the chairmanship of Professor R C Kuhad, Vice-Chancellor, Central University, Haryana, and published “in consultation with the Universities or other bodies concerned” as mandated by Section 12 of UGC Act.
The guidelines first issued on April 29 required the exams to be held in July. However, in view of the evolving situation of the Covid pandemic and lockdown, the UGC requested the committee to revisit the guidelines. It said the MHA “has also permitted” the conduct of the exams and the matter affects the standards of higher education in the country.
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