Mahrashtra Governor-CM tussle over exams: Colleges, students worried

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Published on Jun 08, 2020 12:33 AM IST
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By, Mumbai

A week after the Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray announced that all final-year undergraduate and postgraduate exams have been called off and that students will be promoted based on aggregate scores in earlier semester exams, state Governor and chancellor of all state universities Bhagat Singh Koshiyari questioned the move.

Koshyari said the cancellation of exams would jeopardise the students’ future and that exams should be held in order to promote students.

Stuck in between the “political stand-off”, colleges and universities are looking at a mammoth task ahead. Conducting exams for close to 9 lakh students across the state, including 2.3 lakh students affiliated with the University of Mumbai (MU), can prove problematic, especially since exams will need to be held ensuring appropriate social distancing and taking into account lockdown regulations that could still be in force at the time.

“We are talking about colleges spread across the state, and to ensure social distancing during exams, universities will need to add more education institutes as exam centres to accommodate all. What if students refuse to appear for exams still?” asked a former MU official, who currently holds a senior role at a management institute. He added that even if the universities and affiliated colleges ensure exams are held maintaining social distancing, conducting exams so late in the year will have adverse effects on the next academic year as well.

Teachers too have raised concerns over how the assessment will take place and how much time the process could take. “For MU alone, teachers will end up assessing over 13 lakh answer sheets that need to be scanned and uploaded on the software, after which they reach teachers for assessment. It will be impossible to ensure that all exams and results will be announced within a month,” said a senior professor at a suburban college.

The Maharashtra Federation of University and College Teachers’ Organisation (MFUCTO) has already written to the state government as well as the MU about their concerns of how the delay in conducting exams and the wait for eventual results will affect students’ prospects.“The university is an autonomous body with its own set of statutes to follow in any type of emergency, and the university has the power to decide how they want to conduct examinations. Since the current scenario is grave in nature, he university has the authority to seek help from Maharashtra government to help with their decision. The governor, on the other hand, is a nominal entity and shoudl not dictate the working of a university,” said Tapati Mukhopadhyay president MFUCTO.

She added that a university takes two-three months to prepare for examination and since university as well as colleges have been shut for almost three months now, it’ll be impossible for the university to conduct examinations next month. “We stand by the CM’s decision,” she added.

Engineering institutes too have expressed concern about holding examinations and in the bargain, further delaying the start of the next academic year. “All final-year Bachelor of Engineering (BE) students who were offered jobs earlier this year are now worried because the employers are expecting students to join their workforce. Without a passing certificate or a temporary replacement for the document, this process will be difficult for all. We urge the government to clarify its stand soon,” said Gopakumaran Thampi, principal of Thadomal Shahani Engineering College, Bandra.

Several student organisations have asked that the health and sanity of students be prioritised. “A degree certificate is awarded to students based on their performance throughout three years and not holding one final exam will not change much. This insistence on final exams during a global health crisis needs to be reconsidered by the government, especially keeping the lives of students in mind,” said Salman Ahmed, president of Student Islamic Organisation (SIO), South Maharashtra.


    Shreya Bhandary is a Special Correspondent covering higher education for Hindustan Times, Mumbai. Her work revolves around finding loopholes in the current education system and highlighting the good and the bad in higher education institutes in and around Mumbai.

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