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UGC final year exam: Students, it is too early to rejoice; here’s why

If you think state governments can get UGC final year exams postponed, this may not be entirely true. The final power rests with UGC.

August 28, 2020 / 02:32 PM IST

The Supreme Court (SC) on August 28 said students cannot be promoted without giving the final year examinations as per UGC guidelines. The apex court was responding to a clutch of pleas from students calling for the cancellation of exams.

In July 2020, UGC had said universities, colleges will have to mandatorily conduct final year examinations by September 30.

In its judgement today, SC said while the state disaster management authority has the right to postpone exams, it doesn’t have the powers to cancel exams and promote students. SC also said states, union territories can seek an extension of the September 30 deadline from the UGC.

While this judgement makes it clear than exams will be mandatorily held, there seems to be a false sense of hope among students. Moneycontrol attempts to clarify some myths related to the judgement:

So, the final year exams have been postponed right?

Absolutely not. SC has upheld the UGC guidelines of July stating that no student can be awarded a degree or promoted unless they give the final year examinations. States only have been given the right to approach the UGC to seek an extension of the September 30 deadline. But remember, UGC decision is final and binding.

But there is a pandemic. Can’t the state government invoke the Disaster Management Act?

Technically, yes. SC said while the state disaster management authorities can invoke the Disaster Management (DM) Act to postpone exams, this body does not have the right to decide that a student can be passed and awarded a degree. So just because there is the coronavirus pandemic, don’t presume that your state government will cancel exams.

Education is on the concurrent list, so can’t state governments decide?

SC has said that UGC guidelines are paramount and cannot be quashed. Though state governments have the right to decide when to hold the final year exams, UGC’s approval will be required for any changes. Universities in each state finally come under UGC regulations so the primary responsibility of these institutes is towards this body.

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This means that even if a state decides to postpone exams with the consent of all the universities, it is the UGC that will decide whether to accept or reject this demand.

I am from Maharashtra and my state had cancelled exams in June. I should be exempt right?

Unfortunately, no. This SC judgement overrides all the state government decisions when it comes to holding the final year examination. Hence, even though Maharashtra chief minister had invoked the DM Act to cancel all examinations including those of the final year, that decision is no longer valid.

So if you presumed that exams have been cancelled, then you may be mistaken. While the DM Act can override UGC to postpone exams, it cannot decide on passing students based on past semester performance.

What if my state government stands by the decision to not hold exams?

This will be a tricky situation. In case a state government does not abide by the SC judgement, it could amount to contempt of court. This is also not beneficial for the students because your final degree could be withheld by UGC in case the final year examination is not conducted.

The only option that lies with state governments is to seek an extension of the deadline. But considering that close to 620 universities out of 818 universities have either completed the final year exams or are in the midst of completion, it is unlikely that others will be given the leeway.

I am worried about the virus. Can I give examinations from home then?

UGC has allowed universities to conduct exams in offline, online or blended mode. This means that you don’t have to necessarily visit the exam centre to give final year examinations. Even home-based exams based on online proctoring can be conducted. Universities like Delhi University are conducting open-book exams giving students flexibility.

But remember that the decision on the mode of examination lies with your university alone. Even if all students want online exams, your university may still insist on offline examination at physical centres.

If first-year, second-year students can be promoted, why not third-year students?

Because the UGC Act says the final year examinations are a must for a student to be promoted and awarded a degree. So, while first year and second year students have been promoted based on their past semester performance, the same system is not allowed for third-year students.

During the SC hearing as well, UGC had clarified that universities passing final year students without examinations will be a violation of the law.

I have been accepted in a university abroad based on past semester marks. What happens now?

If you have been granted admission in an institute abroad based on your performance in the past semesters, you need to contact the global institute immediately. Inform that the SC has passed a judgement making final year exams mandatory.

It is likely that your admission will be kept on hold till you give your final examinations and get the degree. Don’t try to hide information because sooner or later the foreign institute will seek the degree certificates.

What’s next? When will my final year exams be held?

The dates of your final year examination will depend on the state government and your university. Your state may seek an extension of the September 30 deadline, but there is no guarantee that it will be approved by UGC. Don’t keep hopes high of postponement, start preparing for the exams now.

M Saraswathy
M Saraswathy
first published: Aug 28, 2020 02:32 pm