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JNU students with no internet will take exams when they return, rest appearing now: VC Kumar

In an interview to ThePrint, JNU vice-chancellor M. Jagadesh Kumar spoke about the university’s online mode of education, the arrests of students and 5 January violence.

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New Delhi: The Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in the national capital will hold separate exams for those who are unable to take the ongoing exams via internet when the university reopens, JNU vice-chancellor M. Jagadesh Kumar told ThePrint, adding that the rest are appearing now.

Several JNU centres are currently conducting exams online.

In an email interview to ThePrint, Kumar said students have benefited from the university’s online mode. “A large number of students have benefited a great deal from online courses, when the alternative in the midst of a deadly pandemic was to sit idle at home … Schools and centres in JNU have shifted to digital platforms to teach the students using different modes like email, video call, WhatsApp, etc.”

His comments come at a time students across the country and campuses have protested against the online mode of education since not everyone has access to the internet.

Kumar said that deans and chairpersons are planning special lectures for those without internet access when they are back. “Same will be followed for exams while the rest are already taking the online exams,” he said. The various JNU schools and centres will decide on how to set the papers for online and offline exams.

The JNU campus is expected to reopen only after 15 August in view of the rising Covid-19 cases, according to an official circular that was issued Monday.

Also read: Schools unlikely to open until late August, govt hopes situation ‘will be favourable’ by then

On student grievances

Several JNU research scholars told ThePrint that their dissertations are ready but cannot be submitted as there is no online or offline option for this due to the lockdown.

Responding to this, the JNU VC said, “The Academic Council has passed a resolution regarding the arrangement of online submission of dissertation papers. It is being implemented too.”

The VC said the viva of Ph.D students is also being conducted online. It is also being ensured that M.Phil and Ph.D students can complete their final stage without any hassles, he added.

While many students told ThePrint that they haven’t been given their non-NET fellowship for a long time, Kumar countered this claim. “Not true. The non-NET fellowships to the students are regularly being disbursed,” he said.

Off-campus students expressed the need for a helpline, specifically in view of the Covid-19 pandemic. The VC said the university’s health centre is equipped with all kinds of facilities.

“The health centre is equipped with qualified doctors whose contact details have already been informed to the students. It is always ready to help students with any mental or other stresses. We also have two ambulances available 24/7,” he said.

On recent arrests and 5 January violence

JNU, which has been caught in several controversies since the violence on campus on 5 January, saw the arrest of one of its students, Natasha Narwal, in connection with anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protests.

Responding to this, Kumar said, “The law enforcing agencies have their constitutional duties to perform. Any arrest of anyone by the law enforcing agencies for violation of laws is beyond the purview of an institution to comment.”

On the 5 January violence, when masked goons had attacked students on the campus, the JNU VC said, “The matter has been under investigation by the police and the administration has extended all cooperation. The university is also investigating it and students are advised not to get involved in such disruptive/unlawful activities.”

The university is in the process of installing CCTVs in the hostel areas and other important locations on the campus. “We have also sensitised the campus security to be more vigilant to ensure a safe and secure campus to our students,” he said.

ThePrint had reported in January that there were few CCTVs on the campus when the university was attacked.

Also read: Children won’t have to sit for hrs in front of computers, HRD to soon set SOP for online classes

‘Can’t take back stranded students’

While governments across the country have implemented ‘Unlock 1’, JNU students stranded in Delhi are unable to get back to the campus. Kumar said this is because the campus does not have quarantine facilities.

“The university has no quarantine facility, and allowing students at this time to return to campus could jeopardise the health of students already stranded in the hostels,” he said.

JNU has issued many circulars asking students to leave for their homes. Citing the same, he said, “All the students have been repeatedly advised to go home. Still, some 850 students are in the hostels. To take care of these students, the hostels are being run with skeletal staff.”

Asked about this year’s JNU Students Union elections, the VC said, “As per the UGC guidelines, the student union elections will take place in accordance with the Lyngdoh Committee Recommendations after the opening of the University.”

Also read: Modi govt wants colleges, universities to help study AYUSH practices for Covid-19


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