Think about the fate of rural students: Why VTU VC Dr Karisiddappa is firm about conducting semester exams offline  

Dr Karisiddappa, asked, "While the students living in urban area will get internet, what about those living in the rural areas? Indian Universities will take time to grow technologically strong."
Dr Karisiddappa, VTU, Vice-Chancellor (Picture: Express)
Dr Karisiddappa, VTU, Vice-Chancellor (Picture: Express)

In the eye of a student-fuelled storm, Dr Karisiddappa, Vice-Chancellor of VTU, has clarified that most of the universities who conducted their exams  online have not been not successful - necessitating their decision to hold all their exams physically. Hashtags such as #VTUmurdersStudents are doing the rounds on Twitter, but the VC says that he took this decision because he felt it would be unfair to conduct exams online for rural students - pandemic or otherwise. 

He says, "There are many issues that the students face when exams are conducted online. Most of the times, the proctored examination software in computers don't work. All the colleges might not have proper IT infrastructure on their campuses. Internet connectivity and speed is a huge issue in rural areas. Many of the students who are studious and would have prepared well would be put into trouble. This is the experience that other universities has also had earlier. Besides this, many students face issues while downloading the question paper or even uploading their answer sheets. There might be chances of malpractice also. And as per my information, all the other universities in Karnataka are conducting exams through offline mode."

The Visveswaraya Technological University (VTU) has been in the news for a while now and one of the important reasons being offline exams for odd semester students. Recently, VTU has asked its affiliated engineering colleges across Karnataka to prepare to conduct offline exams in the month of February and March. As a result, 120 engineering students have filed a writ petition in the Karnataka High Court asking them to cancel conducting the semester exams offline. However, neither VTU nor the Government of Karnataka appear to be in a rush to change their decision. 

Furthermore, he informed that a lot of students have started attending regular classes. He says, "More than 50 per cent of our students have started coming to college. This shows that they don't have proper internet facilities at home. While the students living in urban areas will get internet, what about those living in the rural areas? Universities in India will take their own time to grow technologically strong."

When asked about the students who have already got COVID-19 and if they will be able to attend the exams, Karisiddappa says, "This is not the first time we are conducting offline exams after the pandemic. Earlier in 2020, when few students got COVID-19, VTU and Higher Education Department worked together to provide individual classrooms and PPE kits for examiners. In one of the cases in Hassan Government Engineering College, a student who was tested positive for COVID-19 wrote exam by staying at hospital itself. Such instances are many and we have ensured that such students don't miss to attend their exams. This year too, we will follow all sorts of SOPs at exam centres inside college campuses."

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