The Big Day Tomorrow for Students

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The verdict on different petitions filed by students against UGC in demand to scrape off final year/terminal semester university examinations in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic will be pronounced tomorrow by the Supreme Court. It will be presided over by a 3-judge bench whose head will be Justice Ashok Bhushan, who will be ruling the verdict at 10:30 in the morning. UGC (University Grants Commission) had in its July 6 regulation had asked the universities to commence final year exams by the end of September. 

As soon as the guideline came into view, many students and organizations went against it in the wake of the prevalent pandemic. One of the petitioners was a COVID-19 patient himself. Along with then Shiv Sena’s youth wing Yuva Sena also joined the hands against the UGC guidelines. They have been demanding full scrapping of final year exams online or offline, both and also the declaration of results based on previous academic performances or internal assessment. 

On April 29, UGC had published regulations for universities and colleges to follow to hold exams by July, 2020. It was regulated by an expert committee headed by Chairperson of Central University of Haryana, R C Kuhad. According to the guideline’s universities had the authorization of administering exams either in online or offline mode by following social-distancing measures.

As COVID-19 is not abating, UGC issued a new guideline in June, reassessing it by holding an expert’s meeting again and in the fresh guideline issued on July 6, it was mentioned that examinations should be commenced by the end of September. States where the COVID situation was worse, their universities took a step of not conducting examinations, which were – Delhi, Maharashtra, Odisha, Punjab, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh. The Disaster Management Act of 2005 was invoked by Delhi and Maharashtra governments to cancel the exams as they didn’t see it fit for students to undertake examinations. This law renders central and state governments to act and take stronger actions to attenuate disaster situations.    

On the other hand, UGC advocated that final year exams are necessary steps. It implied that “Final-year/ terminal semester examinations are important because the learning process of a dynamic interaction where the only way to figure out what the students know is to seek evidence of their knowledge. Academic evaluation of final-year students is, therefore, a very important milestone in any education system.” So, it is utmost necessary for students to go through exams as degrees cannot be granted without it and to go for exams or not is the power vested to UGC only, state governments don’t have a say in this. The Ministry of Home Affairs backed UGC on this matter and filed an affidavit before Apex Court asserting that educational institutions will be opening for holding final year exams only.

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