The Delhi University students amidst the lockdown have started addressing letters to various government departments including the undergraduate grants commission (UGC) and HRD ministry and also to various political parties like INC, BJP, and AAP stating that the students are facing pressure from various sources be it social, academic or professional pressure and thus further stated that amidst the current circumstances the students are not fit to appear for the examinations.
The students also stated that the final year students should be promoted on the basis of their internal examination record and the GPA of previous semesters combined.
After the UGC made a decision regarding the academic calendar and the guidelines to be followed regarding the online internal assessment, the students gave the recommendations of promoting the final year students on the basis of previous internal records only. Internal evaluation for the current academic year (2019-20) may constitute 50% of marks and the remainder 50% is derived from the previous five batches of semester results. Also, the students suggested that since students put their best effort in their final year, a 10% increase in average marks derived from previous theory assessments should be granted to every student in an effort to ensure that their GPA does not suffer and can make up for the lost academic year/semester.
The students also raised concerns regarding online teaching stating that though teachers are attempting online teaching, many students do not have proper access to adequate internet facilities, laptops, and online textbooks which has resulted in an unfair penalty. Also in-spite of online classes held by the teachers they cannot be a replacement for physical classes and written notes. Further, the students cannot be satisfied with the online classes till there is parity on access to all infrastructure and the teachers are adequately trained at online teaching, lack of which has resulted in negligible learning outcomes for the students.
The students also said that most of the students returned to their hometowns during mid-semester break and they do not have access to required notes, textbooks or any academic material which is a major disadvantage to them.
The students also raised concerns over their mental health stating the unavoidable uncertainty of their future regarding the masters, jobs, and all the future plans of the final year students, inability to meet their peers and teachers to clear their doubts. In addition to this, they stated that many students live in a household with cases of domestic violence and the lack of personnel space which needless to say, have jeopardized their mental health severely leading to many of the peers experiencing breakdowns and hence do not have to the capacity or mental facility to appear for the examinations in any form.
In the letter, the students also raised concerns for their safety stating that Delhi university, since it caters to students all around the country, a lot of districts and the states are active hotspots of the novel coronavirus, Delhi itself being one of them Also, how uncertain it is at this point of time to determine when the cases shall recede in these areas. under such circumstances, safety is a big concern for the students, and travel restrictions are a major challenge for the students. Also, the infrastructure is not adequately equipped at this point to cater to the norms of social distancing so that any kind of exam could take place. In addition to this, a lot of students have their parents and guardians actively engaged in a battle against the COVID19, be it as doctors, nurses, police official, grocery store workers/owners, safai karamcharis, health workers, etc. thus their risk of being affected and being a carrier increases and can put other students at risk.
Students also raised concerns over the commencement of exams in July since many students want to pursue their masters from foreign universities whose semesters start in September. Conducting exams in July will further delay the attainment of the degrees and hence students will have to defer their masters for another year. Also, some students have already received placement offers which are set to commence from July/August onwards, if exams are conducted at this point then their job security which is already at an economic loss is further put at risk. The students also stated that since the syllabus would be completed till May 15, it would leave the students with a gap of 2 months with nothing but the uncertainty of exams looming over their heads which is considered rather counterproductive.
The UGC recently suggested a reduction of exam duration from 3 hours to 2 hours on which the students expressed their concerns stating if the marks were to remain the same, the reduction of time would only adversely affect the students and they won’t be able to complete their exam on time. also reduction of time anyways won’t suffice the safety precautions needed to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The students stated that “we believe that unprecedented times call for unprecedented measures and one such measure suggested is the cancellation of exams for the final year students”.