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Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Explained: What is Haryana’s ‘flexi-examination’ system for post-graduate students?

Education reforms in the time of Covid-19 envisage ‘re-appear’ or ‘compartment’ students sitting again for their exam soon after the first attempt; they also open up a chance for brighter students to complete their four semesters in only three.

Written by Varinder Bhatia , Edited by Explained Desk | Chandigarh | Updated: October 20, 2020 7:40:22 am
Students at an exam centre in New Delhi. File/Express Photo by Praveen Khanna

The disruption in the education system in the country due to the Covid-19 pandemic has necessitated several education reforms to be put on fast track. One important dimension of the education system is examinations. Considering that the disruption in studies may continue for an uncertain period, Haryana State Higher Education Council has come out with a “flexi-examination system”.

To begin with, at least seven out of the 17 government-aided universities of Haryana have agreed to introduce the system that will impact thousands of students of post-graduation courses. Gradually, the system will be adopted by all the 17 universities in post-graduation courses, followed by professional courses.

If the results are encouraging, then the flexi-examination system will also be introduced to the graduation courses. On average, 1.2 lakh-1.25 lakh students enroll in post-graduate courses in Haryana annually. What is the flexi-examination system, and how is it likely to impact students?

What exactly is the flexi-examination system announced by Haryana?

As the name suggests, the examination schedule shall be flexible for the students. There are two dimensions to this system.

One, it provides a second chance to weaker students to clear their exams more easily.

As of now, those students who are not able to pass their regular examination in the first attempt, have to wait for six months or a year to sit for re-examination, depending on the regulations in force in their universities. If the student is in the final year, he/she has to wait for a full year for the re-examination. As a result, his/her further studies as well as employment opportunities get impacted.

With the flexi-examination system, a student who gets a compartment or wants to re-appear in one, two, or more papers can ask the university for a suitable time when he/she is ready for the re-examination. The university will give the student an opportunity at a mutually convenient time and date to take the re-examination.

Two, students who are bright and have the capability of finishing their examination early, will get the opportunity to do so.

Prof B K Kuthiala, chairman of the Haryana State Higher Education Council, said: “In some foreign universities, if there is a four-semester course, the student has an option to complete it in three semesters. The student not only saves on expenses but also on time. Most Indian students who go abroad are very hardworking. With this system, although they have to pay the fee for all four semesters, they will save on their living expenses by completing the four semesters in the duration of three semesters”

Prof Kuthiala added: “In Haryana, we have experimented with the first thing — compartment and re-appear students shall be allowed to opt for the re-examination as and when they want. It may also be called examination-on-demand.”

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But would it not put additional burden on examiners to set question papers at short notice?

Under the flexi-examination system, universities shall keep a comprehensive question bank ready. When a student wants to sit for an examination, either physically or in online mode, a randomised question paper will be generated.

Which universities have so far agreed to introduce this concept?

The seven universities that have come forward to introduce the flexi-examination system in select subjects/ departments/ courses and, based on the learning to expand it further, include Chaudhary Bansi Lal University, Bhiwani; Chaudhary Ranbir Singh University, Jind; Guru Jambeshwar Science and Technology University, Hisar; Dr B R Ambedkar National Law University, Sonipat; Shri Vishwakarma Skill University, Palwal; J C Bose University of Science and Technology, Faridabad; and Chaudhary Devi Lal University, Sirsa.

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Will this system be only for post-graduation students?

The seven universities will experiment with the flexi-examination system in a few courses in the next examinations, whenever they are held. The first aim is to cover the post-graduation courses, then the professional courses like engineering, medical and others and, depending upon the success of the project, this system will also be gradually implemented in graduation courses.

Will it be binding on the universities to introduce this flexi-examination system?

Not exactly, because universities have an autonomous administrative system. The State Higher Education Council can only propose, advise and motivate the universities to introduce the reforms. The academic and executive councils of the universities will have to take the final call.

What Haryana State Higher Education Council has done is, they have taken all the Controllers of Examinations and Vice Chancellors on board, and almost all of them have agreed. It will also depend upon the number of students — for instance, universities of smaller strengths can immediately begin, while bigger universities like Kurukshetra University and Maharshi Dayanand University, Rohtak, will follow gradually.

Has any other state adopted this flexi-examination system?

“I am not aware of any other state,” Prof Kuthiala said. “The mandate of the UGC, AICTE and Haryana State Higher Education Council is to introduce reforms in the education system. One of the reforms is that we do away with the existing examination system where you say, there are 10 questions, attempt any five… These reforms need time. They need standardisation as well as validation. We have started the work, made groups and things are working. Gradually, over the next 4-5 years, we should be able to see a student-friendly examination system in Haryana,” he said.

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How will the university ensure that students do not indulge in unfair means while taking examination online?

Prof Kuthiala said that there were various technologies available to check unfair means.

“There is a provision of video-recording through the computer’s camera, and the university can look at it. There are agencies that are doing it professionally. Online examination has been a very successful experiment in the case of Delhi Technological University. They had outsourced it to an agency and this agency used technology for invigilation,” he said.

What happens if a student does not have access to technology for taking exams online?

The student shall also be given an option to opt for the physical examination.

Some universities had suggested that they would send the question paper, the student can get it printed, and then take the examination. But in that case there would be no mechanism to check the use of unfair means once the examination was conducted offline and off-the-campus — the suggestion was, therefore, dropped.

How did Haryana come to decide on the flexi-exam concept?

Prof Kuthiala said that the Council had been exploring various education reforms for the last two years.

“The first problem was huge numbers of examinations and the students, then the re-appears and compartments. In many universities, the system is that if you get a re-appear you have to wait for one year. For instance, re-appear for an odd-number semester shall be conducted in the odd-number and for even-number semester in the even number.

“If a second semester student gets a re-appear, he or she can take it again with the fourth semester only, and so is the case with first and third-semester examinations. That is an extremely student-unfriendly system. During the discussions, this thing came up that why don’t we give opportunity to students to take the re-examination whenever they are ready,” he said.

What is the incidence of re-appear/ compartment in Haryana?

“Incidence of re-appear and compartments, not only in Haryana, but in the entire country is very high, especially in professional courses. It’s not only that students fail in the examinations. There could, for example, be a student who is intelligent and well-prepared for the examination, but he/ she falls ill on the day of examination and cannot take it on the stipulated date,” Prof Kuthiala said.

“Earlier, he/she would have to wait for at least six months to one year to take re-examination. With this flexi-examination system, he/she can take it within a fortnight or a month, depending upon what schedule the universities frame under this system.”

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