Asked to write exams physically during pandemic, Psychology students of BNU's Montfort College cry foul. And the UGC agrees

The exams are slated to be held offline even amid the rising COVID-19 cases and a third wave looming around the corner, complain the students
Image for representation | Pic: Express
Image for representation | Pic: Express

Students of Bengaluru North University are not happy with the Karnataka government's decision to hold physical semester exams, which are scheduled to begin on August 9. Final semester MSc Counselling Psychology students of Montfort College, which is affiliated to the university, are claiming that they are being forced to write their third semester exams almost eight months after it was originally scheduled in January. They claim that they were caught unawares as the date was announced just two weeks prior — in July 2021. The exams are slated to be held offline even amid the rising COVID-19 cases and a third wave looming around the corner, complain the students.

In a letter to the University Grants Commission's (UGC) South-Western Regional Office, the students stated their grievances. The letter states, "Many students tested positive for COVID during the second wave are not yet eligible for vaccination." Jameela (name changed on request), one of the students who wrote to the UGC says, "The postponement has added three months to our course, which should have ended in July. We want the university to announce an alternative assessment scheme for the third semester exams or conduct online examinations at least so that our safety is not compromised." This is also a case of a small group of students being caught between a rock and a hard place. According to Jameela, it is the students studying Counselling Psychology, Psychology and Kannada who have to appear for all their papers now. "Exams for the other subjects were conducted in March and only one or two papers from each subject had to be postponed due to the onset of the second wave," she says. 

UGC's reply

Jameela also states, "We have a thesis to submit for the fourth semester and we have to appear for offline exams at a time like this." But that's not all. Jameela says that the university is not just asking fourth semester students to write offline exams but the second semester students are also being asked to write their first semester exams offline amid the pandemic. 

In its reply, the UGC asks the university to "look into the matter." The letter also states that the university should "address their (the students) grievances, in accordance to the guidelines issued by the UGC." In a tweet on June 15, Deputy Chief Minister C N Ashwathnarayan said, "VCs and college chiefs have a social responsibility. They need to ensure all students above 18 years are vaccinated. This helps start the next academic year activity normal. Examinations can also be held as normal. Academic work has to go on and we have to find solutions."

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