New Delhi: The University Grants Commission (UGC) has once again revised the academic calendar for first-year students, or freshers, in colleges and universities due to the increasing number of Covid-19 cases across India.
According to the latest calendar, the academic session for freshers will now begin in November instead of September, and the delay will spill over to the next academic session as well.
If there is no final decision from the Ministry of Home Affairs on physically reopening schools and colleges by November, freshers will begin their college education online.
The UGC had, in April, released an alternative academic calendar for colleges, with guidelines on exams, mode of study and the schedule to reopen. At that time, the plan was to reopen colleges in September, but looking at the unabated rise in Covid cases, the session has been delayed until November.
The latest guidelines were communicated to all universities and colleges Monday. The revised calendar, a copy of which is with ThePrint, states that the admission process for first year students needs to be completed by 31 October and classes for the first semester should commence by 1 November.
Classes for the same batch will be delayed in 2021 as well, as these students will go into second year only on 30 August 2021.
Six-day weeks, no summer and winter breaks
In order to compensate for the loss of academic time, the UGC has asked colleges to teach six days a week, without any summer or winter break, for the next two academic sessions.
“The start of first year of academic session 2020-2021 is delayed due to the circumstances beyond control but efforts be made to compensate the loss of this period by curtailing the breaks (Summer, Winter etc). This would ensure that these students would timely complete their 3 year UG/ PG programme,” the UGC communicated to colleges.
It added, “All the universities may follow a 6-day week pattern for the academic session 2020-21 and 2021-2022 to compensate the loss for this batch of students.”
The commission has also asked colleges to give full refund of fees if a student withdraws admission before 30 November. “In order to avoid financial hardship being faced by the parents due to lockdown and related factors, full refund of fees be made on account of all cancellation of admissions/ migration of students, upto 30.11.2020, for this very session as a special case,” the guidelines said.
“To be crystal clear, the entire fees including all charges be refunded in totality (Zero Cancellation charges) on account of cancellation/ migration upto 30.11.2020. Thereafter, on cancellation/ withdrawal of admissions upto 31.12.2020, the entire fee collected from a student be refunded in full after deduction of not more than Rs.1000x as processing fee,” it explained.