234 varsities to hold exams in Aug-Sept

Over 180 universities have conducted exams while another 234 are planning to hold them online in August and September, according to the University Grants Commission (UGC). UGC, the higher education regulator, wrote to 640 universities seeking the status of examinations after it issued guidelines for conducting them on July 6. The guidelines made it mandatory to hold exams for the final year students.

UGC on July 6 asked universities and colleges to hold their final-year, or final-semester examinations, by September 30. The direction came as the Union home ministry’s approved the conduct of these tests.

The examinations can be held either online, or offline (pen and paper), or using a combination of both. For students other than those in the final year, universities and colleges can choose their own exam method to close the academic session. Colleges and universities have been closed in the country since March 16 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Over 450 have written to UGC saying they have either conducted the exams or were planning to do so. According to UGC data, accessed by HT, 182 universities have conducted exams either online or offline while 234 others planned them over the next two months. Around 30 universities are awaiting directions from their statutory councils before holding the exams.

According to information available with the regulator, 177 universities are yet to take a final call on holding the tests. In the case of 27 private universities set up in 2019-20, they do not have final year students yet and do not have to hold the exams.

UGC’s advisory asking universities to hold exams was based on recommendations of a committee led by Central University of Haryana vice-chancellor R C Kuhad.

UGC has said holding exams was important to retain the Indian education system’s credibility and that it would be in the interest of students.

States like Punjab, Maharashtra and Delhi had expressed their inability in conducting the exams in view of the Covid-19 pandemic. The Delhi government had said it was in favour of cancelling all exams.

Officials said the Punjab government also wrote to UGC asking it to reconsider its suggestions. The regulator is learnt to have asked it to find a suitable way of holding the exams.

The Union Human Resource Development ministry has also released guidelines on how exams can be held. Officials said the ministry feels that even state and private universities should abide by the UGC guidelines as the regulator is entrusted with maintaining educational standards.

“UGC sought data from various universities. In what is a positive sign, a large number of them have either held exams or are in the process [of holding them]. UGC believes that holding exams for final year students would be greatly beneficial to their long-term prospects,” said an official.

Institutions like Delhi University have tried to conduct exams but have faced opposition from students and parents with some citing digital divide in case of online tests.