Mumbai University students in a dilemma; some want exams, others don't

Students are in a dilemma as they await decision of the state higher education ministry on cancellation of last semester exams of final year of all University of Mumbai (MU) programmes. Some students claim exams should not be cancelled because it will snatch away their chance to score high marks at a crucial stage in their career while, others claim exams should be scrapped to avoid the risks of spread of coronavirus infection.

Some students claim that the final year exams are their only opportunity to upgrade their scores to decide their future prospects. Urjita Chatterjee, a final year student of management studies (BMS), said, "I have been preparing for my final exams since the last five months. I want to shoot up my overall score because I did not fare well in my fifth semester. But, if exams are not conducted, I will not be able to score high as I will be graded on the basis of my previous marks."

Performance in the last semester exam serves as a deciding factor for admission to higher education, jobs and career opportunities. Varaz Rehman, a final year engineering student, said, "I have already secured a job through campus placement. But I will get my employment offer only if I score a certain high overall percentage. I will not be able to score this overall grade without appearing for final exams."

On the other hand, some students claim conducting exams will lead to crowd gathering, break the barriers of social distancing and increase serious risks amidst the COVID-19 pandemic situation. Anshika Chadda, a final year student of arts (BA) said, "I do not think it is safe to venture out of our homes and sit in a classroom for exams especially when the number of coronavirus cases in Mumbai is increasing rapidly every day. Even if we are young and healthy, we can be carriers of the virus which might pose serious risks to our parents back home."

Exams will lead to interaction between people which contradicts the idea of a lockdown, said Farel Gomes, a final year student of commerce (BCom). Gomes said, "We will have to interact with supervisors, staff, security and fellow counterparts during exams. This will adversely affect us as the cases in Mumbai and Maharashtra are high compared to other areas. We should be careful and avoid exams."

Over 2.22 lakh students of MU are waiting as the state has appealed to the University Grants Commission (UGC) to grant permission to not conduct exams in Maharashtra.

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