Colleges seek clarity from state govt on academic calendar and exam schedule

Degree colleges are left confused about conducting semester examinations for First Year (FY) and Second Year (SY) students of various Undergraduate (UG) programmes as the University Grants Commission (UGC) guidelines state exams should be conducted in March 2021. In response, Uday Samant, higher and technical education minister of Maharashtra, said UGC guidelines are suggestions but, a delay of one or two months in the academic cycle is expected due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Colleges said they began the academic year 2020-21 from September 1, by conducting online lectures and now they need to conduct the first semester exams. The principal of a college at Matunga said, "We began virtual classes from September first week on a daily basis. Generally, we conduct first semester examinations before Diwali vacation. But there are no directions from the University of Mumbai (MU) or state higher education department regarding conduct of exams for FY and SY students."

According to college heads, the UGC guidelines released on September 22, added to the confusion. The guidelines approved by the UGC said, "Taking into account the COVID-19 pandemic, the academic session should begin from November 1. Examinations should be conducted between March 8 - 26, 2021. The following semester examinations should be conducted betwen August 9 - 21, 2021."

Ronita Banerjee, a senior professor of a South Mumbai college said, "We were planning to conduct first semester exams via online mode before the Diwali break so that students do not face a delay in their academic schedule. But there is no clarity given by the state on how and when the exams should be conducted. Why should students wait till March 2021 when we can complete first semester exams between November to December 2020?"

On being questioned, Samant told the Free Press Journal (FPJ), "Colleges can plan the semester examinations for FY and SY students. It is expected that the academic schedule will be pushed by one or two months due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The UGC guidelines are suggestions to start the academic session but, we can appeal and seek its approval depending on the ground level situation."

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