New Delhi: The University Grants Commission (UGC) has sought to justify its decision of making final-year exams mandatory for college and university students by citing top-ranking global institutes such as MIT and Cambridge University which conducted exams during the Covid pandemic.
The UGC’s decision, announced Monday, drew a lot of flak from students, parents and faculty members, who questioned the need to conduct exams when the country is faced with a health emergency.
Following this, the UGC Thursday issued a circular to colleges and universities, explaining the rationale behind its decision.
“Presently several universities have conducted/planned exams in online/offline/blended mode,” the circular said.
“Top-ranking universities of the world have opted for final exams to be done remotely. Like Princeton and MIT, University of Cambridge, Imperial College of London, University of Toronto and McMaster, University of Heidelberg and University of Hong Kong have resorted to the online technology-based model of conducting exams,” it added.
The UGC also gave examples of other universities like University of Oxford and National University of Singapore that conducted exams in ‘take-home’ format, apart from some other universities that used methods like term paper, open book, presentation, assignments and time-limited exams.
“In order to safeguard the larger interest of students, related to their academic and career progression, particularly those who are in final year/terminal semester, the institutions are required to chart out a plan to conduct exams,” the circular added.
SOPs for colleges
The circular also detailed Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for institutes with regard to conducting exams.
It asked education institutes to do a risk-assessment before conducting the exams if they are holding them in offline mode. The SOPs said the level of risk should be perceived differently for residential and non-residential students as the risk is higher for the latter.
“Higher education (institutes) should address the following concerns — preparation of risk-assessment and subsequent actions which varies, whether the institution is fully residential, partially residential or non-residential. The higher risk and bigger challenge is faced by institutions that are non-residential, where students will leave daily and come back the next day,” the circular read.
The circular also asked colleges and universities to make sure they monitor the health of their faculty members, counsellors, and other technical and non-teaching staff, who will interact with students regularly.
It also asked institutes to make sure they follow the basic safety measures such as sanitisation of the premises, thermal screening, safe physical distance and wearing of masks.
12 students in one room
Some of the other SOPs for institutes include making sure that sanitizers are available at each desk and everyone — students and invigilators — are wearing masks all the time.
Exam functionaries have also been asked to wear gloves at all times, especially while distributing the question papers. Downloading Aarogya Setu app has also been advised for all staff and students.
Further, the commission has given a sample seating arrangement plan to colleges, which they can follow.
According to the plan, only 12 students should be made to sit in a room. Students should also be made to sit one seat apart from each other.