UGC said that the exams would be conducted by the end of September 2020 by the respective universities.
Even as the number of cases of the novel coronavirus continue to soar in India, the University Grants Commission (UGC) has said that the end term examination for these students would be conducted by the end of September 2020 in offline (pen & paper), online or blended mode.
This will come as a dampener to students, especially belonging to states like Maharashtra where the state government had decided that final year examinations for students will be cancelled due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
While UGC has now clarified that examinations will have to be conducted mandatorily for passing students and awarding degrees, there is no clarity on what happens when students are neither able to visit physical exam centres due to the pandemic nor are able to access online examination modules.
Union HRD minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank announced that the UGC in its meeting on July 6 has accepted the 'UGC Revised Guidelines on Examinations and Academic Calendar in view of COVID-19 pandemic'.
The UGC has revisited its earlier guidelines related to university examinations.
In view of the safety, career progression and placements of the students and their larger interests, after consulting @HMOIndia and @MoHFW_INDIA, it has been decided that pic.twitter.com/evKTYPwnIa
— Dr. Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank (@DrRPNishank) July 6, 2020
Intermediate level students would be evaluated based on internal assessments at the respective institutes and need not appear for examinations.
Several state governments had requested UGC to cancel all the final year university examinations. However, UGC Act mandates that for awarding degrees, final year examinations will have to be held.
Moneycontrol had reported earlier that Maharashtra government cancelling university examinations for final year students may not be acceptable.
Under the new UGC scheme, in case a student is not able to appear for examinations, he/she would be given an opportunity to appear for these papers in a special examination by the institution at a later date so that the candidates are not disadvantaged.
In places like Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Delhi and Gujarat where there are several thousand COVID-19 positive cases, universities would have to conduct online examinations using remote proctoring services.
However, it is not clear what will happen in case a student does not have access to a laptop, computer and internet connection.
Further delay in conducting examinations may hamper career prospects of graduating students.
"The UGC guidelines are very unclear. What do they mean by 'special examinations' for students who cannot appear for tests now? How do we hold online examinations in remote locations. Offline examinations are out of the question atleast till November 2020," said the Vice Chancellor of a Maharashtra-based university.
Admissions for most higher education programmes abroad would close by October 2020. Hence, in case, students are unable to give their final year examinations by then, going by the UGC guidelines he/she would not be awarded a degree.
Only a student completing the examination through the university would be eligible to graduate.
Data from the All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) 2018-19 showed that at the undergraduate level itself about 6.4 million students graduated from various programmes in the previous academic year in India.Considering both undergraduate and postgraduate levels, almost 8 million students pass out of institutes every year. Due to the rising COVID-19 cases, universities across the country may consider it risky to hold exams offline.