After online classes for 2 years, students protest offline exams

When Allahabad University announced it would be conducting offline exams on March 24, it sparked widespread protests.

University officials countered that the move was “consistent with restoring normality” and was taken after a high-level committee – formed to investigate student proxies against offline exams – delivered its report in favor of pen-and-paper exams .

๐Ÿ—ž๏ธ Subscribe Now: Get Express Premium to access the best election reports and analysis ๐Ÿ—ž๏ธ

The university’s public relations officer, Jaya Kapoor, said: “Some of the protesting students splashed petrol on themselves and it became a law-and-order situation. The district administration asked the Vice Chancellor to reconsider the demands of the students. So, on March 25, it was decided that all second-year students would be promoted and third-year student exams would be held online.โ€

Most universities in India have a semester system with exams at the end of each semester – in May-June and November-December. This time several universities have decided to hold offline exams for the semester ending in May-June 2022. However, with little clarity about housing regulations, exam schedules and hybrid schedules, the decision met with resistance in most states.

On April 13, Maharashtra Minister of Higher and Technical Education Uday Samant announced an additional 15 minutes for every hour students take for an offline exam.

Since February 28, students and faculty at Visva Bharati University in Santiniketan, West Bengal, have been protesting the decision to hold offline exams without reopening all dormitories.

โ€œMost of the students lived in dormitories. Initially, when the hostels were not operating and groups of seniors started taking offline classes on December 1, 2021, students rented rooms. With limited accommodation available in the Santiniketan area, first-year students were unable to find accommodation when their offline classes resumed on February 1. They continued to take online courses and are now reluctant to take offline exams,โ€ said Somnath Sow, a final-year BA business student at Visva-Bharati University.

โ€œThe 26 Day Movement has helped us secure our claims and online exams will start on April 18. The demand for hostels to reopen has been officially met, but in reality things are still not clear, so the protests continue,” said Chaiti, a student at the university’s Department of Art History.

Vice Chancellor Bidyut Chakrabarty declined to comment.

The lack of accommodation is also why engineering students at Kolkata-based Jadavpur University have protested the decision to hold offline exams.

โ€œFinal students don’t want to move away from their hometown for the remaining months of their studies. Also, no one is willing to rent out their property for a few months,โ€ said Akash Sekh, a second-year master’s student in international relations.

However, the university has already published the schedule for offline exams and for some courses the exams will start on April 24th.

Calls to VC Suranjan Das University went unanswered.

At Delhi University, over 1,500 km away, students are demanding that their end-of-semester exams be administered online. The university reopened in February and has also decided to conduct offline exams for students in their second, fourth and sixth semesters.

Semester exams for the first, third and fifth semesters are conducted in online OBE mode.

โ€œThe decision for offline exams came on February 9th, and students have been protesting ever since. Most of the coursework was done online and we took a little over two months of offline courses. Therefore, the exam mode should be revised,โ€ said Himani Singh, a sixth-semester BSc student in domestic science at DU’s Lady Irwin College.

However, Pankaj Arora, DU’s dean of student welfare, said: “To return to normal, we need to return to offline exams.”

He said: “Due to Covid the ‘odd’ semester was shorter than usual and we have decided to keep her exams online. The offline exam duration of the even semester has been increased by 30 minutes. The university is also willing to instruct individual universities to conduct mock exams.โ€

In Maharashtra, confusion over the format of the final exam has sparked debate. The Maharashtra Student Welfare Association (MSWA) has launched a social media campaign to make the assessment format “uniform” after writing to the Chief Minister.

โ€œThe high school graduates compete with each other for admission to university and on the job market. If their judging is in different formats, the competition will not be fair,โ€ said Vaibhav Edke, MSWA President.

While Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU) and Rashtrasanta Tukdoji Maharaj Nagpur University will hold offline exams, Mumbai University has announced a “more mixed approach” – exams of traditional courses will be online while for professional courses they will be offline. Also, many autonomous colleges in Mumbai have decided to hold final exams offline.

“For job-related courses, the students wrote clear answers for 60 out of 100 points in the last two exams anyway. The only difference is that they don’t write it at home, but come to their respective colleges for exams,” said Vinod Patil, director of the University of Mumbai’s Examination and Evaluation Board.

He replied to the students’ demand for “uniformity”: “There can’t be any parity anyway, because the courses, curriculum, examination patterns and assessment methods are different at different universities.”

Leave a Comment