New Delhi: Former University Grants Commission (UGC) chairman Sukhadeo Thorat has called the panel’s 6 July decision to compulsorily hold final-year examinations for college and university students as “unfortunate”.
In a letter to UGC chairman Dhirendra Pal Singh Thursday, Thorat reiterated demands by students across the country to cancel the exams. The letter’s other signatories included around 28 professors from various institutes across the country, including Delhi University and Jawaharlal Nehru University.
“The UGC’s latest advisory on examinations is unfortunate because it takes us backwards rather than forward. It effectively extends the period for holding of exams (for final-year/semester cohorts) until September, the second such postponement. And it creates fresh uncertainty for states that had already decided to cancel exams,” the letter read.
“The recommendation to cancel exams was prompted by an unprecedented health emergency, not by doubts about the value of examinations,” the letter said.
Throat argued that the uncertainty of Covid-19 pandemic will create the “genuine need” of repeated postponements, which can be avoided altogether by adopting alternative methods of evaluation, including past performance of students.
“Using alternative methods of evaluation based on each student’s own past performance (in exams conducted in normal times) offers a fair solution and brings closure, with the option of retaking the exam when normalcy is restored,” the letter said.
Thorat was the UGC chairman between 2006 and 2011.
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‘Online or mixed modes will be biased’
In his letter, Sukhadeo Thorat said cancelling the exams will help in protecting their “integrity” as the online mode may not give equal opportunities to all examinees, and lack close supervision to prevent cheating.
The UGC’s revised guidelines suggest holding final-year examinations in online, offline, or blended mode.
“When faced with such an emergency, cancelling exams has two main advantages: First, it avoids the extended uncertainty created by repeated (but unavoidable) postponements. Second, it protects the integrity of the examination by refusing to abandon its two most basic features – impartiality, or equal treatment of all examinees; and close supervision to prevent cheating.”
The letter argued that cancelling exams during a pandemic is “sensible” and “fair” because examinations must not be “devalued”.
“Those who argue that cancelling exams will devalue degrees must explain how holding a farcical “virtual” exam that lacks the basic features of the real thing will enhance their value,” it said.
“Given the realities facing the overwhelming majority of our students and institutions, examinations held in the “online” or “mixed” modes will be biased as they will favour students with better access to the internet and work against students whose access is precarious,” it added.
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