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UGC v. States: The New Guidelines Conundrum

IP University Students Are Certainly Not Feeling Heard

Delhi is involved in one tussle or the other with the centre and this time it is with UGC. Delhi has joined the list of states who have decided to cancel examinations for the previous semester, which go against the UGC guidelines.

This has prompted a new tussle that is UGC v. States. While announcing the cancellation of examinations, Delhi’s Education Minister said, while quoting Arvind Kejriwal “unprecedented times require unprecedented measures.”

Short-Lived Happiness

UGC Guidelines
UGC Guidelines

Like all the happy moments in our lives, this too was short-lived. As the number of states who decided to cancel the exams grew, UGC decided to give ‘lagaam’ to the states. HRD Secretary Amit Khare was quoted by The Hindu stating, “As per the UGC Act, State governments cannot take this decision. Unlike school education, which is on the State list, higher education is on the concurrent list.

UGC and All India Council for Technical Education directives have to be implemented. It is there in the act.” This sentence is the long and sophisticated version of saying to the state government “We will do whatever the hell we want to.

Arvind Kejriwal Writes To PM Modi Against UGC Guidelines

 

Final Year Exams Amid COVID-19 | UGC guidelines
Final Year Exams Amid COVID-19 | UGC guidelines

Chief Minister, Arvind Kejriwal also wrote to Prime Minister Modi on the UGC guidelines. In his letter, he said that the youth of this country are very worried because of the guidelines. He also stated that unprecedented times require unprecedented actions.

And Arvind Kejriwal is not the only one who has shown displeasure with respect to UGC guidelines. West Bengal, Odisha, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Punjab have objected to the UGC’s guidelines.

Odisha Also Opposes the Move

Directorate of Higher Educations of Odisha also came out against the guidelines and tweeted, “State Government has sent a letter to MHRD requesting to reconsider the revised guidelines of UGC and not to make the conduct of UG & PG final term exams mandatory. MHRD has been requested to allow the State Government to adhere to its decision of cancellation of these exams.”

UGC Adamant

Final year exams
Final year exams

HRD secretary was further quoted by the Hindu as saying, “Consider the future if degrees are granted without any assessment. Even if final term degrees are granted now without exams, what will happen to the next term? If COVID continues for a year, will we start granting degrees without exams for years together?”

Further, an official of the UGC was quoted by the Indian Express as saying:

“Section 12 of the UGC Act 1956 clearly states that the UGC can take all such steps as it may think fit for the promotion and coordination of University education and for the determination and maintenance of standards of teaching, examination and research in Universities.”

But when asked about the feasibility of holding examinations in educational institutes that are being used as quarantine facilities the official went on to say that “Universities have time till September to conduct exams and they have the autonomy to decide how they want to do it. And not all educational institutions are being used for quarantine.” Indian Expresses reported.

You might also like: Centre To Conduct Exams: States’ Request To Be Considered

 

Former UGC Chairperson Opposes the New UGC Guidelines

 

Former UGC Chief has been vocal against the UGC guidelines | Credits: The Print
Former UGC Chief has been vocal against the UGC guidelines | Credits: The Print

While a letter which has Former University Grants Commission chairman Sukhadeo Thorat and around 28 professors from various institutes across the country, including Delhi University and Jawaharlal Nehru University as its signatory reads, “The UGC’s latest advisory on examinations is unfortunate because it takes us backwards rather than forward.

It effectively extends the period for holding of exams (for final-year/semester cohorts) until September, the second such postponement. And it creates fresh uncertainty for states that have already decided to cancel exams.”

Problems with the New UGC Guidelines

Well if we for one minute assume that UGC will conduct examinations for final year students, the question of its feasibility rises. And the UGC goes into hibernation when asked to answer these questions.

It is high time that the UGC pays heed to the voices of the students and take remedial action. Because of the colleges decide to conduct offline exams, it will make the exam a sham.

Outside Delhi students that went home will have to cross state borders to give the examination. Where will they say? Will they have to be quarantined? What if the PG owners do not allow them access to their flats? Who will be held responsible if they get infected? 

The failure of Delhi University’s Mock Open Book Examinations has been very well documented. It is proof that our IT infrastructure is not prepared to conduct online examinations.

UGC v. States: Most Affected Are the Students

The constant tussle between UGC and State governments have left students hanging in a situation where their life and career is at stake. 

There is a lot of confusion in the minds of students, whether to apply for higher studies or not. Some students are waiting for their degrees so that they can get the offer letter, some are waiting for a final decision to take an appropriate decision regarding jobs and this has taken a toll on the mental health of the students. 

In a situation what should a student do; prepare for higher studies and jobs or for university exams? As of now, there’s no clarity (which is the only job of the government, to make everything as clear as a crystal for the people who elected them).

Conclusion | UGC Guidelines

Final year exams: A right move?
Final year exams: A right move?

It is a fact that IP university takes at least a month (which we know is a gross underestimation) to declare the results. The constant delay in making a final decision will result not only in students missing out potential opportunities but is also affecting their mental health. 

In the end, we want to leave the government with food for thought. This is an excerpt from the letter written by the former chairman of UGC and 28 other professors. “When faced with such an emergency, cancelling exams have two main advantages: First, it avoids the extended uncertainty created by repeated (but unavoidable) postponements.

Second, it protects the integrity of the examination by refusing to abandon its two most basic features – impartiality, or equal treatment of all examinees; and close supervision to prevent cheating.”

We leave you with this and most humbly request you to accept this as a representation of the students of India.

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