New Delhi: Universities and colleges across the country are likely to get more freedom to decide according to their convenience when and how to conduct their pending exams and start the new session, ThePrint has learnt.
But the number of vacations in the new session (2020-21) is likely to come down, including cancellation of winter holidays in December, a source in the University Grants Commission (UGC) said.
Semester exams across universities have been pending because of the lockdown, which has also cast its shadow on the start of the new session.
The UGC will soon come up with guidelines for universities and colleges on how to go about with the new session and on the issue of holding pending exams.
UGC secretary Rajnish Jain told ThePrint the guidelines will be about giving more freedom to the universities to decide on an academic schedule and conduct exams based on the Covid-19 situation in the areas where they are located.
“Universities will be given more flexibility in terms of deciding when and how they can conduct the exams and when they can start the academic session. Everything will depend upon the locally favourable conditions in the area… whether the area has a large number of (Covid-19) infections or less infections…,” he added.
Jain said the UGC will issue the guidelines based on the recommendations submitted by the two UGC-appointed committees last week. The recommendations were discussed by UGC members Monday.
“We have discussed the two reports submitted by the committees at length and based on the suggestions, the UGC will soon issue guidelines for universities,” he said.
The recommendations by the committees included conducting online exams wherever possible. If a university has the means, including the infrastructure, to conduct online exams, they should go ahead with it. But those without such means, should wait for the lockdown to get over and then conduct pen and paper exams, according to the recommendations.
These committees were constituted to look into the issues of academic loss and online education in the wake of the Covid-19 lockdown. The issues pertained to holding of exams, online classes and the new academic session.
One of the committees is led by Haryana University Vice-Chancellor R.C. Kuhad. It was formed to look into the ways of conducting exams in universities amid the lockdown. The other committee, formed to suggest measures to improve online education, is led by Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) V-C Nageshwar Rao.
New session tentatively in August-September
The source in the UGC told ThePrint universities can start preparing for the new session once they conduct all their pending exams.
A tentative cut-off date, the source said, for starting the new session has been kept as August-September, but even that could be delayed depending upon the local Covid-19 situation.
Usually, the new session begins from July.
‘40% syllabus should be completed online’
The source said the UGC will take a decision with regard to reopening of colleges and universities not before July.
“As and when situation starts improving in an area, institutes situated there will be allowed to start opening with the permission of the local administration. However, that call will not be taken before July. We are just watching the situation until July to decide the things further,” the source said.
The commission is also likely to suggest measures to start admission for the next session.
“It has been suggested by the committee members that admission to the next session should happen through online mode. A single entrance examination for all universities has also been suggested by the committees but the commission is aware of the challenges in that,” said the source.
The source added that UGC members agreed the admission process can be held largely via online medium, but they are not sure about the single entrance exam.
The committee headed by Nageshwar Rao has suggested that 40 per cent of the syllabus should be completed online and the process should start now so that there’s less pressure when the universities reopen.
“The committee tasked with the promotion of online education has suggested that at least 40 per cent of the syllabus should be completed online to compensate for the academic loss,” said a second source from the UGC.