Safety protocols need to be in place if college and university students have to write the final exams.(Keshav Singh/HT Photo)
Safety protocols need to be in place if college and university students have to write the final exams.(Keshav Singh/HT Photo)

HT Chandigarh Readers’ Take: Guarantee students’ safety if exit exams take place

Readers remain divided over the University Grants Commission’s decision to complete the examination process for exit classes in colleges and universities, with some concerned about safety and sanitization measures at exam centres and others giving it the thumbs up, saying a year cannot be wasted as final year students have crucial decisions to make
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh | By HT Correspondent
UPDATED ON AUG 21, 2020 11:40 PM IST

Some things in life are more important than exams

By delaying examinations the University Grants Commission (UGC) can potentially save lives as the risk of students getting infected and carrying the virus to their homes with chances of elderly relatives living there is quite high. Conducting examinations will require a combination of things such as implementing social distancing norms, hand hygiene protocols, and sanitisation, depending on whether the examination centre is near any containment zone. It requires time and planning to make such arrangements. There are chances of transmission of Covid-19 even if one centre does not have safety measures in place. UGC needs to wait till normalcy is restored to complete the final examination process for exit classes in colleges and universities.

SK Khosla, Chandigarh

Increase number of exam centres

Factories, offices and other workplaces are open through the day so why can’t a three-hour examination be conducted peacefully? UGC’s decision to complete the examination process by September 30 is fair and should not be rolled back because students cannot waste time any more this year. A few things to be kept in mind are: Increasing the number of centres to ensure social distancing, proper sanitisation, adoption of water, sanitation and health (WASH) guidelines by UNHCR as a reference to frame guidelines for conducting the exams. Auditors should be appointed at the examination centres to make sure that the guidelines are followed. Other measures such as checking temperature, building sanitisation tunnels, wearing face mask and carrying hand sanitisers should also be followed. Students giving these exams are old enough to understand what needs to be done and so they will act accordingly.

Krrish Madaan, Ambala

Interests of students important

UGC’s decision to complete the final examinations for exit classes by September 30 is in the interests of students and parents as it will save a precious study year.

Subhash Chugh

Students should just focus on studies

Why are exams conducted? To assess a student’s competency to get promoted to the next class or for further studies. However, if we keep postponing exams the students will remain in a state of suspense. We (students) need to co-operate and respect UGCs decision and focus on our studies as this is for our own good.

Ankita Tiwari

Open more centres, limit number of exam takers

We are making specific changes in our lifestyles to curb the spread of Covid-19, therefore, rules should be followed in the education sector as well. Students and examiners will be gathering at the exam centres and face the risk of getting infected. Online exam is also not a very good option as it’s not something that’s accessible to all students. One way out is by opening more centres in districts and allowing a limited amount of candidates there. There is definitely no doubt that the virus is yet to peak and stay for a prolonged period. So delays are not an option but a more structured process can help both ways. UGC must chalk out a proper plan rather than just focusing on completing the exam.

Komal Sharma, Chandigarh

Time needed to mentally prepare for exams

UGC should revisit the decision that seems to have been taken in a hurry so that the students are not left to fend for themselves as they have already suffered on the academic front this year. If the commission mulls rolling back the decision, a large number of students will get sufficient time to mentally prepare for their respective examinations due this year, as and when new normalcy is restored.

Ramesh Dhiman, Chandigarh

Cannot be held to ransom by virus

The career of students cannot be held to ransom by a virus, which we have to live with for a considerable period of time. Hence, life must go on. Even the Supreme Court has rejected the plea of a handful of students to cancel exams by stating that the students cannot be made mute victims and spectators by wasting their whole year at the altar of Covid-19. There is no doubt that education has been one of the worst affected fields due to the pandemic, but an entire academic year cannot be disrupted. The forthrightness shown by the highest court of the country will ensure the end of uncertainty and frequent postponement of the key postgraduate courses, and help overcome stress, nervousness and anxiety among the aspirants. The UGC move is very prudent in the current scenario.

Rajiv Boolchand Jain, Zirakpur

Safety measures should be in place

It is important to take physical exams and students’ careers depend on final year exams because if they fail to get a high score they might not get a good job or good programme at an institute of higher learning. The only thing is that proper safety measures must be in place at the exam centres.

Priyam Aggarwal, Chandigarh

Give priority to students’ future

Universities and colleges will have to work extra hard to complete the challenging job of conducting the exams. Various suggestions have been made: That grades should be given on the basis of previous performance and assessment. Others say that UGC should send question papers and receive answer sheets by post. All of this is not viable as under the present conditions, the postal department might not oblige and chances of the papers leaking are also high. A well thought out plan should be worked out. Students have been under pressure for long and in the present conditions all stakeholders should give top priority to the students’ future.

Usha Verma, Chandigarh

Conduct exams as quickly as possible

The authorities should decide in the best interests of the students. Either the UGC should allow the students to appear in an online test (examination) or grades should be allotted to them on the basis of previous performances. Valuable time should not be wasted. Students cannot plan ahead without mark sheets or degrees. So the exams should be conducted as quickly as possible using any format: Online, or previous performance.

Sumesh Kumar Badhwar, Mohali

Previous performance should count

Students should be given the option to choose between written exams or assessment on the basis of previous performances. Online tests are not a good idea because students can cheat and many do not have access to computers or Wi-Fi.

Ishita Nara

Gives marks on basis of internal assessments, viva

UGC should conduct online exams as it’s not feasible and safe to conduct physical exams at centres during the Covid-19 pandemic. Each paper can be divided into internal assessment, viva, speaking at length on a particular topic, project, or group discussions. This is a fair way to evaluate a students’ knowledge.

Abhilasha Gupta, Mohali

Involve medical experts in taking decisions

Will the UGC be able to maintain physical/social distancing in the examination centres involving all the students and examiners or risk their lives? Let the top officials of UGC work in the Covid hospitals or mortuaries for a few days to have a feel of the exact situation the country is in, instead of dictating their rules from their exclusive air-conditioned chambers. Are the lives of students and examiners more important than an examination? Almost all students have passed almost five semesters of their papers. The heavens will not fall if the situation is put on hold till the situation normalises. We are aware of the standards of education in the government aided schools or colleges in our country. Let the UGC involve experts of medical fields and take a decision one way or the other. Suresh Verma, Chandigarh

Wind up the examination process quickly

The UGC decision to complete examination for exit classes in colleges and universities by September is prudent and its negation will be detrimental to students’ long-term interest. The observation of the Apex Court: “Life has to go on even in Covid times”... students’ career “cannot be put under jeopardy for long,” while dismissing pleas to defer the scheduled JEE/NEET, is pertinent. Corona is not leaving us any time too soon and next academic session (2020-21) has already started. The final examinations must conclude session 2019-20 post haste. Promoting students without examination is not the right step. Examinations are for comparative evaluation of performance and the benefits far outweigh extra efforts required to conduct them under testing circumstances and where there is a will, there is a way! The verdict reserved by Supreme Court of India, likely early next week, will decide whether there should be a final examination for degree students across the country as insisted by the UGC. Better wait and watch!

Lalit Bharadwaj , Panchkula

Exams must, but with precautions

UGC’s decision to hold exams seems to have been taken after deep introspection. The decision is laudable. Final year exams are crucial in determining admissions in higher courses and for job prospects. However, UGC must strictly impose all precautions to prevent transmission of Covid-19. Students should start preparing for the exams.

Dr Karan Singh Vinayak, Chandigarh

Students at a crucial stage

As per the circular issued by University Grants Commission (UGC) dated July 6, 2020, universities have been given sufficient flexibility to conduct exams via online, offline or hybrid modes. Further, for the benefit of students, it was also mentioned in the circular that exams will be re-conducted on a later date, in case a student is unable to appear for it on the scheduled date. Therefore, conduct of examinations in online/offline/blended/hybrid mode, instead of physical mode in traditional classroom environment, will be an encroachment on the legislative field of coordinating and determining the standards of higher education in the country. “Learning” is a dynamic process where the only way to figure out what students/learners know is by seeking evidence of their knowledge. In a developing country like India, exams are used as a medium for assessing the knowledge of the students. Because students of the final year classes are at a crucial stage, stuck in between the global epidemic and career, conducting exams is hence a prudent move for securing their future.

Pallavi Kapadia

Students know best

Universities should be opened for the students to continue their studies as we are young we have sufficient immunity and as adults can take proper precautions like sanitation and masks.

Kasirao Gumadala

Who will be responsible if students are infected?

I have a few questions for UGC.

The Covid-19 outbreak is not under control. Will you be responsible if any student or his or her family member is infected. Get all of us insured and we will give the exams

What about transportation and stay for outstation students?

Yogesh Nehra

Students denied opportunities

I am a BSc physics final year student from Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi. I got an admission letter from an international university in France. I will have to provide my provisional certificate or course completion letter. But due to these new guidelines from UGC, I may have to forego this offer. So UGC’s decision to hold final year exams is just a foolish decision and it will deny students a number of opportunities.

Ligin Joseph

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