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UGC guidelines on exams: Important points and Two quick questions

15 May, 2020

Following the UGC guidelines, universities across the country have postponed their scheduled examination to join fight against pandemic. While those universities located in green zone are allowed to conduct exams for semester I to V, in affected areas, students will be promoted based on the grades of intermediate semesters. But for the final semester however, exams will be conducted on a singular time. After Savitribai Phule University, Jamia Millia Islamia, now Mumbai University has decided to follow the UGC guidelines.

What is the basic point of the UGC charter?  The UGC guideline has categorically expressed that  ‘grading of the students could be composite of 50% marks on the basis of the pattern of internal 6 evaluation adopted by the universities and the remaining 50% marks can be awarded on the basis of performance in previous semester only (if available)’. However, it needs to be remembered that UGC exam guidelines are just broad policy points, which the universities would assess on their own and come up with own rules. To explicate it further, universities are given freehand to use their own rules.

It is in fact also directed that if ‘in the situations where previous semester or previous year marks are not available, particularly in the first year of annual pattern of examinations, 100% evaluation may be done on the basis of internal assessments’, as reported by Times Now. Apart from these the guidelines, it is also suggested that practical exams and research viva should be conducted via SKYPE.

There remain a few questions to be asked then. Will this aggregation of previous marks reflect true intellectual development of students? The answer is a definite no. But it is also impossible to conduct examination under the present situation. Therefore, the government must come up with a more creative solution. The second question should be asked is, can all students manage exams so soon after missing lectures over a month? It should also be kept in mind that, in absence of physical classroom lectures, most students would still require assistance to sit to write a final examination. What then can be the tentative solutions we can suggest to the UGC?

Keeping in mind the extraordinary situation, the UGC must for once consider revoking of all exams. Even for the final semester, the students should be evaluated based on their previous grades. Although this will not evaluate a student’s intellectual growth, but to bring the immense trauma – financial and emotional – a student would go through in this time, the government should consider this change. In place of that, the singular admission test formula should be applied for all the higher educational institutions.

In America, most universities have either postponed their semester or have cancelled exams for their domestic students ‘keeping in mind the financial problem their families would face’. I believe, if we really want to take up a holistic approach towards making education more global and also to fight multifaceted difficulties Covid-19 has brought with it, UGC should consider this.


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