For class of 2020, all higher study plans put on the back-burner because of Covid-19
It has not been easy for Natasha Sharma, a Class-12 student. Preparing for admission to an undergraduate course at a university in the United States (US), she’s worried about the impact of the Covid-19 lockdown on the class of 2020 .
“If not a year, this is a setback for at least the next six months. There is no clarity on the academic calendar to be followed,” says Sharma. “I had planned everything meticulously. If not the US, then I would have applied for Indian universities. Everything is so chaotic now.”
With two exams still pending for the board exams, she feels “two years of planning for studies abroad have gone waste.”
The student community moving to colleges and universities has been hit hard by the pandemic, with no clarity on competitive exams and admission schedules to institutes of higher education.
Most of them are unsure of future plans with the postponement of the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) to engineering and architecture colleges, National Eligibility Cum Entrance Test (NEET) to medical colleges and Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) to law institutes.
Popular institutes such as Delhi and Panjab universities have also postponed admissions.
The home ministry’s fresh guidelines for lockdown 5.0 to reopen schools and colleges after consultations with states and union territories in July has added to the confusion.
“Students sitting at home are battling with anxiety as they are uncertain about what the future holds for them. Parents are concerned about the pending exams, college admissions and safety of their children,” says Sharma’s father Vishnu Sharma.
Changing education destinations
Sidharth Chopra, founder of Samarthya, an organisation working with parents of students in government schools, empowering them to have a voice in how schools function and improve, says: “The months of lockdown will impact how the students choose their education destination. Many of come to study in Chandigarh from the neighbouring states of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir. I am expecting that we might see a shift in this trend.”
Seconding the thought, GS Bakshi, administrator of Kabir High School in the city says , “Parents might want to send their wards to places nearby within a two to four hour distance. At this moment, however, many of them might not want to send their children abroad or to distant places.”
About his daughter, Bakshi says she has changed plans to enrol in a university abroad and is thinking of joining a six-month online class at home and apply again next year.
No concrete plan to reopen institutes
Even though the fresh MHA guidelines say that consultations for reopening of colleges and universities will start in July, this does not mean that residential colleges like ours will reopen anytime soon,” says Dheeraj Sanghi, director, Punjab Engineering College.
“For the semester other than incoming and outgoing classes, we are hopeful that we will resume classes online so they won’t be affected. However, the situation will be severely impacted if the JEE is not held on July 18 and is delayed. As of now the expected timing of incoming batch is October 2020,” he adds.
Situation more complicated for government institutes
Because of greater autonomy, private colleges/universities might not wait for the Central Board of Secondary Education results and start admissions to keep up with the schedule, says Chopra. “However, the government institutions have a rulebook to follow. Moreover, they are also prone to litigations, so that can further affect the academic year,” he says.