A few engineering colleges in Bengaluru are allegedly asking final-year students to produce a COVID-19 negative test report before they can appear for the examination scheduled for August. Staff involved in conducting the exam have also reportedly been asked to produce a certificate.
After receiving complaints from parents and students, Visvesvaraya Technological University (VTU) has issued directions to colleges to desist from asking for such certificates. “This does not make any sense. Colleges should refrain from doing so. If they continue to insist and ask students to provide the certificates, disciplinary action will be taken against them,” Vice-Chancellor Karisiddappa told The Hindu . He added that complaints have been received against two colleges in Soladevanahalli and Jalahalli.
Final-year students, who received a circular asking them to get a medical certificate, are anxious and say the rule makes little sense. “Even if we undergo a test, it will be several days before we get our results. Even if we get a test done seven days before our exam, what happens if we contract the infection after we give our swab test?” asked one student.
An associate professor at another college in the city said they have asked the management whether they should take an antigen test or an RT-PCR one. “The tests are expensive. This is a huge burden, as we have suffered salary cuts. We asked the college to bear the cost of the test, but the management has refused,” she said.
Around 55,000 engineering students, who study in colleges affiliated to VTU, will appear for the final-year exam in the last week of August. Students have to appear for three papers; the viva for their projects will be conducted online. While appearing for the exam, they will have to wear masks and gloves.
Colleges have been told to provide accommodation for students residing in paying guest accommodations or hostels during the course of the exam.
Students who have tested positive for COVID-19 can appear for the exam in separate rooms at their colleges. This move has not gone down well with many students, who have urged the university to have separate exam centres in every district where those with COVID-19 can sit for their papers. “This is a big risk for students. Our demand is to cancel the exam. Else, we need separate centres so that other students are not put at risk. They should also consult medical experts,” said Abhaya Diwakar, State treasurer, All-India Democratic Students Organisation.