Exam season is already upon the students and it is reaching its climax. Yet institutes are still grappling with the decision that is akin to a fork in the road: go for the tried-and-true way of conducting exams offline or take the less complicated route of online mode? Meanwhile, unanimity has truly disappeared as circumstances differ from college to college, which also includes the “Who wants it most?” factor.
Take for example the University of Allahabad. Students were protesting the initial decision to conduct exams offline. They were finally successful and the exams will now take place online. But there are different justifications offering a view on how they got to this bridge. Professor Jaya Kapoor, spokesperson for the university, explains “After the decision to conduct offline exams was made, there was a huge outcry about it and some of the agitated students went to the vice-chancellor’s office and even threatened themselves with self-immolation.So the district administration has stepped in to advise the conduct of the exams in the online mode.The modus operandi of the online mode is not yet finalized.
This only applies to third-year undergraduates, as second-year students have simply been promoted to the following term. The supporting reasoning, as provided by the spokesperson, was that “exams would take a long time and promoting students would save them time since academic sessions are already delayed.” According to Professor Kapoor, the majority of students were comfortable with the initial decision for offline exams and that it was only the protests of a handful of students that swung the decision.
The other side of the coin
However, Anupam Jaiswal, a student at Allahabad University, disagrees. He points out the main difference at Allahabad University regarding undergraduate courses having annual rather than semester exams. “Given that the majority of classes for the year were conducted online, it makes sense that even exams would be conducted this way. We had conducted social media surveys where 60% of students requested exams online while the others chose to stay neutral,” Anupam says. The institute conducted its own means to understand the opinion of the field, but the students ignored it, citing problems of transparency in the results.
Anupam also points to the factor of website server issues when exams used to be conducted online and setting up a proper system would require a significant outlay from the university. “We were reassured by the institute that since this time only final year students would take the exam online, there would be much less load on the server. It remains to be seen how the system would fare this this time,” continues Anupam. to say.
The scene in Bombay
The situation for universities in Mumbai is slightly murkier. While most of the standalone colleges of Mumbai University have opted to take the exams online, others like SNDT Women’s University, Mumbai will be holding offline exams from May 10. It also comes after the postponement of exams for a week, which raises real concerns. the results would be further delayed compared to colleges holding online exams. This, in turn, would harm the prospects of students who wish to take postgraduate courses in the next academic term. “By delaying the exams, the university has only made our problems worse. Offline exams would cost us dearly because many students have to travel from distant places to get to college,” says a student from the SNDT university who wished to remain anonymous.
SNDT University students who spoke to Edex Live, say the institute disputes that too many students were able to take the exams the last time they were taken online. “Teachers, if they wish, can define application-based questions so that students cannot use unfair means while answering them online. The decision to give us more days to prepare and one day break between consecutive tests is just a gimmick. They should have announced courses and exams completely offline only from the next semester, “says another SNDT student.
The student also declared, officially, the societal problems that would arise due to the girls failing their exams. “The offline mode would put undue stress on us to pass the exams. Many of our families have put the added pressure of forced marriage on us if we fail to clear the papers. I hope the university also recognizes these factors “said the student. added.
More views to come
Siddharth Ingle, Founding President of Maharashtra Students Union (MASU), says, “There has only been one month of properly conducted offline courses in universities this semester. So how is it justified to conduct exams offline after such a long interval? Also, when classes are in hybrid mode, the choice of exam mode should also be up to the students, right?”
The declining quality of education is another factor which is cited as the reason for the decision by the Ministry of Higher Education of Maharashtra. “During the pandemic, students have become accustomed to easy and convenient ways to manage their education. We support the government’s decision to conduct exams offline as it would maintain the quality of education,” says Sachin Bansode, student in LLM and State of Maharashtra. coordinator of Chhatra Bharati.
Time is certainly running out, as the example of the fight at the SNDT Women’s University shows. But more than that, the quality of life experienced by young women may also be at stake. The question of the trade-off in the quality of education is therefore a difficult problem to solve.