Frontlist Education | UGC won’t alter decision on final-year exams, tells SC the move will protect academic future

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In a 50-page affidavit, the UGC says it has taken into account the evolving situation of Covid-19 and sufficient time has been given to varsities to conduct the exams.

New Delhi: The University Grants Commission (UGC) Thursday refused to alter its 6 July notification mandating universities to conduct final-year exams by September end, saying the decision has been taken to “protect the academic future of students”.

In an affidavit filed before the Supreme Court, the commission claimed that a student’s performance in examinations, especially in final year/ terminal semester, gives her or him confidence.

A bench, led by Justice Ashok Bhushan, will Friday consider UGC’s affidavit, submitted in response to a batch of petitions filed against the commission’s guidelines to hold final exams amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The lead petition is by 31 students from universities across the country. They have said that the UGC’s decision will compel students to appear in exams during the pandemic, posing risk to their health.

The UGC guidelines, released with the 6 July notification, allow universities to conduct “special exams when feasible” for students who cannot appear for the term-end exams in September.

According to the commission, the decision of some states, including Maharashtra and Delhi, to “either cancel” undergraduate or post-graduate exams or confer degrees to students without appearing for the final year/terminal examinations is “contrary” to its guidelines.

“All universities or institutions are obligated to conduct a terminal semester or final year exam by the end of September 2020,” UGC told the top court.

‘Sufficient time is given to universities to conduct exams’

In its 50-page affidavit, the UGC states that its guidelines were formed taking into account the evolving situation of Covid-19.

“The final year or the last two semesters of a course/program consist of primarily Discipline Specific Elective (DSE) courses, Generic Elective (GE) courses and Skill Enhancement (SEC) to provide value-based and/or skill-based knowledge,” read the affidavit.

It is necessary to test the final-year students on “specialised elective courses” studied by them during the terminal year, said the UGC, explaining the rationale behind conducting the exams.

Sufficient time, it said, was given to universities to conduct the exams. The body also said varsities have been given enough flexibility – the exams can be conducted via online, offline or hybrid mode.

‘Not holding exams will affect standards of higher education’

Students who are unable to appear in the exam will be given a chance to take another specially-conducted test at a later date so that they do not face any “inconvenience or disadvantage”.

The petitioners’ contention that students will be forced to appear for the exams at the cost of their health was also rejected. UGC guidelines provide a special chance for those who are unable to participate in the September exams, the body said.

UGC also criticised states for not abiding by its guidelines to hold the exams.

“Such a decision directly affects the standards of higher education in the country and will be an encroachment on the legislative field of coordinating and determining the standards of higher education reserved exclusively for the parliament under Entry 66 of List I of Schedule VII of the Constitution of India,” its affidavit submitted.

 

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