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Students allege exams being held despite incomplete syllabus, internet issues; varsities say doing our best

Students from across streams, from various parts of the country, raised similar issues, even as university authorities said they were doing their best amid the existing constraints.

With Covid-19 disrupting academic years, students from across streams have expressed concerns over incomplete syllabi and exam schedules. Students are demanding that universities should hold exams only when the syllabus has been completed.

The Indian Express spoke to students from various parts of the country, who raised similar issues, even as university authorities said they were doing their best amid the existing constraints.

The Board of Technical Education, Uttar Pradesh (BTEUP) will conduct exams for final-year students enrolled in technical courses in the third week of July. However, students enrolled in various polytechnics across the state claim that classes have not been held and the syllabus stands incomplete.

Mohd Shuaib Khan, a second-year BTech (Civil Engineering) student of Government Polytechnic, Alapur, said students from rural areas have not been able to access online classes as their villages do not have internet connectivity. “Not even 10 per cent of the syllabus has been covered by the institute. According to the BTEUP academic calendar, exams can only be conducted after 90 days of classes, but our classes have been irregular. We had appeared for third-semester exams in March, but the result has not been declared yet,” he alleged.

Khan added that in his class of 70 students, only 20 are equipped with smartphones. “We want the authorities to postpone the exams for two months and conduct classes in the meantime. If we appear for these exams and fail to clear them, we will have to pay Rs 500 for re-appearing. Since we are not from well-off families, it would put unnecessary financial pressure on us,” he said.

An official from Government Polytechnic Jansath, Muzaffarnagar, UP, agreed that the syllabus has not been completed, but said efforts are being made by conducting classes after working hours and on weekends.

“Many students from rural areas are unable to access live classes, but all are a part of the URISE portal where all the lectures are uploaded for them. We are trying to complete the syllabus by July 15. A decision will then be taken regarding a reduction in the exam syllabus,” he said on condition of anonymity.

First semester LLB, LLM students enrolled at the Chaudhary Charan Singh University (CCSU), Meerut, are distressed about the university’s decision to conduct offline exams amid the pandemic. Despite the UP government’s order to promote first-year students, CCSU (also called Meerut University) has decided to conduct offline exams from July 6.

“In the absence of clear guidelines from the Bar Council of India this year, the university has taken the liberty to risk students’ lives by conducting offline exams. Despite students’ attempts to register grievances with the university, the authorities have not offered any leniency in the mode of assessment. Students are demanding that either the exams be delayed or conducted in online mode,” a first-year law student of CCSU told indianexpress.com on condition of anonymity.

On the other hand, Bhupendra Singh, professor and dean of students’ welfare, CCSU, said the university is only following government directives. “We have reduced the number of questions and exam duration from 3 hours to 1.5 hours. Our challenge is that 80 per cent of the student population in the varsity belongs to rural areas, without access to the internet. If we set up dedicated centres for computer-based tests (CBT), then also the students will have to gather at one place. We are conducting exams on university premises to minimise the troubles for students,” Singh said.

Apart from exams, the academic cycle too has become troublesome for students, as they claim there have been back-to-back classes and exams without much attention to the quality of teaching.

A second-year BTech (Computer Science) at Manipur Institute of Technology (MIT) claimed students have been sitting for exams without the syllabus or practical lessons being completed. The institute functions under Manipur University.

“We appeared for end-semester exams from March 1-13 and classes for the fourth semester began from March 15. The practical lab sessions, which are to be held throughout the semester, have been completed only in three weeks. Two of my branch-mates lost their parents recently. Despite their multiple requests, no alternative was devised for them and they were made to take the online exams. For this semester, we had already received the tentative schedule for exams, but later got a circular saying the exam had been cancelled and they will prorate our internal assessments marks,” the student said.

W Chandbabu Singh, registrar and professor of the university, told indianexpress.com that only a tentative datesheet was announced and practical exams will be conducted in due course of time.

“We have discussed the matter with the principal of MIT. The first, third, fifth, and seventh-semester exams were over in March before the pandemic situation deteriorated. Presently, even semester classes are being conducted online. No examination is scheduled at present for engineering students. Students wanted to be promoted without exams and hence they created the whole campaign. Concerns of students who lost their parents have been addressed and head of departments have been directed to have special assessment methods in place for them,” Singh said.

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