[ Nellie N Manpoong ]
RONO HILLS, Jul 7: After the University Grants Commission (UGC) revisited its guidelines on Monday and called for completing examinations of terminal semester/year students by the end of September 2020, authorities at Rajiv Gandhi University (RGU) here said the university would have to follow the UGC guidelines.
As per the UGC, the universities are required to complete the examinations by the end of September on the offline (pen & paper), online, or blended (online + offline) mode, following the prescribed protocols/guidelines related to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The ministry of home affairs (MHA) has also allowed for the conduct of examinations.
Before the notification of the revised UGC guidelines was issued, the RGU Students’ Union (RGUSU) had sought cancellation of the examinations for terminal semester/year students, citing health concerns as well as lack of interactive classes.
Speaking to The Arunachal Times, RGU Registrar, Prof Tomo Riba informed that the RGU authorities have been unable to meet to discuss on the demands of the union due to the weeklong capital lockdown.
However, he said that “RGU will have to follow the UGC guidelines and discuss the modalities to conduct exams for terminal semester/year students in September, as per the UGC notification.”
“The UGC guidelines are for all central universities in the country and are approved by the ministry of human resources. This is a central university, which is completely guided by the UGC. Universities that had declared terminal semester/year results without examinations may have to conduct examinations now,” he said.
On whether the university has given thought to online mode of examination, the registrar said, “Online exams are not possible. Many of our students are from far-flung areas. They will suffer and we may have to conduct exams again.”
The registrar assured that the university would follow the standard operating procedure to address health concerns and accordingly invite students from outside the state to arrive first and undergo hostel quarantine in two groups.
“Those who come from outside the state will also have to undergo mandatory quarantine before they come to the university. We also have doctors here and a task force, and we will coordinate with the state government.”
After 14 days of quarantine, students here in the state will be called to the university.
“There are over 2000 students in RGU itself, more than half of which are intermediate semester students. Since intermediate semester students will not be appearing for exams, it will make space for the terminal students, and maintaining social distance in the classrooms will be considerably easier,” Prof Riba said.
Even though the registrar acknowledged that there would be some challenges, he said that the future of the students depend on it.
“Without writing exams, their qualifications may be questioned in the future. RGU students may not be able to compete with other students if all the universities in the country conduct exams. RGU is not doing anything on its own. It is taking decisions based on the instructions and guidelines of the UGC,” he said.
Additionally, the registrar informed that intermediate students will also have to fill examination forms and pay 40 percent of the examination fee for handling charges through the online mode.
In the meantime, the RGUSU termed the UGC’s decision to conduct examination and the MHA’s approval of it “illogical and anti-student welfare in nature.”
“Scoring marks will not help students qualify for competitive exams, but knowledge, skills and reasoning will. The UGC/MHA should have spared students in this crucial time. Even parents have come out to say that they won’t risk the lives of their children for the sake of a degree paper,” RGUSU president Dopum Sonam told this daily.
He said the UGC should have come up with ideas and modules for final semester students, rather than declaring compulsory examinations at the cost of the students’ lives.
Requesting the RGU authorities to place their grievances and ground realities of the state before the UGC for consideration, the RGUSU further sought “100 percent arrangement and management from the RGU authority for the health and safety of students.”
Earlier, a UGC committee had recommended cancelling examinations for final-year students of universities and institutes of higher education across India and evaluating them on the basis of previous semester examinations and internal assessments instead, in view of the pandemic.
[ Nellie N Manpoong ]