New Delhi: Students in universities and colleges across India will have to now “compulsorily” take their final-year exams this year.
In a press statement issued late Monday evening, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said: “Ministry of Home Affairs, in a letter to the Union Higher Education Secretary, today permitted conduct of examinations by universities and institutions.”
The MHA statement, however, didn’t clarify the mode — online or offline — in which the exams would be conducted.
“The final term examinations are to be compulsorily conducted as per the UGC guidelines on examinations and academic calendar and as per the standard operating procedure approved by the MoHFW (Ministry of Health and Family Welfare),” it added.
UGC also in favour of holding final exams
Following the statement, senior officials in the University Grants Commission (UGC) confirmed to ThePrint the UGC is also in favour of holding final exams, and will ask all states and central universities to conduct the final exams.
The UGC will allow institutes to conduct exams in the mode most feasible to them, officials added.
“There was a meeting of the commission members today and there is a decision in favour of conducting exams. The MHA and MoHFW have also given the due permission now and the universities will be allowed to conduct exams keeping all the social distancing protocols put in place by the government,” a senior UGC official told ThePrint.
“In the interest of the students and academic credibility, exams cannot be bypassed and institutions must have final exams. How they want to do it and when they can conduct the exams is up to them, but they will have to conduct exams,” the official added.
According to the minutes of UGC meeting, accessed by ThePrint, the commission will give universities time until September to finish their final-year exams either in offline or online mode.
“The commission approved the recommendations of the expert committee regarding conduct of final-year examinations to be completed by the end of September 2020 in offline/online/blended mode,” according to the minutes.
States, which cancelled exams, have to reconsider
According to a resolution passed during the UGC meeting, states that have cancelled exams will have to reconsider their decision and they cannot opt for internal assessment.
Many states, including Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Kerala, have decided to cancel the final exams for university students, while Gujarat, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh have been waiting for UGC directions.
The UGC had in May released an academic calendar based on suggestions from an expert committee headed by Central University of Haryana Vice-Chancellor R.C. Kuhad.
The calendar had taken into account the pandemic situation during that time, and suggested that pen and paper exams can be conducted in July if local conditions are favourable.
In June, however, looking at the rising number of Covid-19 cases across the country, Minister of Human Resource Development Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank had asked the UGC to re-visit the guidelines.
I have advised the @ugc_india to revisit the guidelines issued earlier for intermediate and Terminal Semester examinations and academic calendar. The foundation for revisited guidelines shall be health and safety students, teachers and staff.@PIB_India @MIB_India @DDNewslive
— Dr. Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank (@DrRPNishank) June 24, 2020