UGC guidelines on new academic session from November leaves colleges, students confused

As per the latest schedule shared by UGC, the new academic session for the current first year batch should commence in the first week of November, however, going by the previous schedule, many colleges have already started their first-year batches online.
Representative(Santosh Kumar/ HT)
Representative(Santosh Kumar/ HT)
Published on Sep 23, 2020 10:29 AM IST
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Hindustan Times, Mumbai | By Shreya Bhandary

A day after the University Grants Commission (UGC) released guidelines for the new academic calendar for first year batch of the 2020-21 academic year, students and colleges in the city were unsure about the implementation of the new dates.

As per the latest schedule shared by UGC, the new academic session for the current first year batch should commence in the first week of November, however, going by the previous schedule, many colleges have already started their first-year batches online.

“The previous UGC guidelines had scheduled start of the new academic year for all batches as September 2020, so colleges did exactly that and started lectures online. The University of Mumbai had also suggested the same so now we don’t know how these new guidelines will be implemented,” said Marie Fernandes, principal St Andrew’s College, Bandra.

MU had conducted admissions to first year undergraduate course batches in July and August months and most colleges had completed filling all their vacant seats by the end of August itself.

Many colleges that have already completed the orientation process for their students and are all set to start regular classes for their new batch are now confused about the dates and are waiting for clarity from the University of Mumbai.

“Since it’s the UGC guidelines, we will have to follow the same. Hopefully the university will clarify our doubts soon,” said Parag Thakkar, principal of H R College.

A spokesperson for MU said the previous circular by the varsity released in July 2020 in terms of start of the new academic year was based on the UGC guidelines of August 2020, which stated that classes for all batches should commence online from September itself. “The new draft guidelines will have to be studied by our academic team before we share a circular with all the affiliated colleges,” he said.

The UGC has also stated the fact that the new first year batch will end up without a summer or winter break until next year in order to make up for the loss of academic time in this year due to Covid-19 and the lockdown. Several students took to Twitter and other social networking sites to share their discontent with this rule.

With no clarity in place, some colleges are also worried about having to follow two separate academic calendars—one for the new first year batch and another for the rest of the batches. “We’ve scheduled first semester exams for our second and third year batches in December 2020-January 2021 and we aim to finish the final semester exams by May 2021. But the UGC circular for first year batches is suggesting first and second semester exams in March and July respectively, which means our teachers will be working on examinations for the next entire year, which is unfair to them too,” said the vice principal of a suburban college.

New academic calendar--

Admissions to be completed by—October 31, 2020

Commencement of classes for new batch (1st semester)—November 1, 2020

Preparation break—March 1 to March 7, 2021

Conduct examinations—March 8 to March 26, 2021

Semester break—March 27 to April 4, 2021

Commencement of classes (Second semester)—April 5, 2021

Preparation break—August 1 to August 8, 2021

Conduct examinations—August 9 to August 21, 2021

Semester break—August 22 to August 29, 2021

Commencement of next academic year for this batch—August 30, 2021

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Sunday, October 24, 2021