College students unsure of exams during pandemic, finds survey

72.2% say average of internal marks be used to decide results; many face practical hurdles for both offline and online exams

April 30, 2020 01:37 am | Updated 01:37 am IST - Mumbai

An online survey on college students’ sentiments about conducting examinations amid the COVID-19 pandemic has drawn over 5,000 respondents in a single day, with 72.2% of the students backing results on the basis of the average of internal exams of current and previous semesters.

As of Wednesday evening, 5,625 students, mostly undergraduate but some postgraduate, had responded to the survey conducted by Aditi Sawant, head of the economics department at St. Xavier’s College.

As many as 87.1% of the students said they are not in the mindset to appear for physical or online exams even if the government relaxes the lockdown.

While 93.5% did not want exams to be conducted during the pandemic, 92.9% said their parents will not send them to exam centres. A whopping 96.1% said they do not feel safe travelling by public transport.

Ms. Sawant said the idea for the survey occurred to her after looking at the number of emails and messages she started receiving from undergraduate students.

“There is a lot of uncertainty among students on how to face the situation. They are facing a situation of panic and are stressed because there are no clear-cut instructions from the university or government,” she said, pointing out that 4,000 students responding to the survey in under 12 hours on Tuesday was itself proof of the panic students are facing.

Ms. Sawant said the survey showed that while physical examinations are out of question and there is a clamour for online examinations, 36.3% of the respondents do not have computers at home while 44.5% don’t have WiFi.

Another 2.4% do not use smartphones, while 76% replied they are not trained in appearing for online examinations.

Ms. Sawant said parents of 11.9% of the students are daily wage earners whose livelihoods have been hit, and 14.45% are beneficiaries of the public distribution system for food supplies.

Of the total respondents, 33.7% are outstation students and 21.3% are currently in States other than where their educational institutions are located.

Besides, 33.9% live in buildings sealed by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation and 67.1% are in self-quarantine.

Ms. Sawant said since undergraduate colleges had finished their semester, it was best to decide the results on the basis of an average of internal exam marks of current and previous semesters.

“We should look at the situation facing us after the lockdown. We have to start afresh. For undergraduate and postgraduate students, I suggest we just promote them. For those wanting to take professional courses like engineering, medicine and pharmacy, this is the best time to hold entrance examinations. The lockdown period is a good time to get done with it,” Ms. Sawant said.

Of those surveyed, 15.1% are third-year or final-year undergraduate students who have applied for admission to foreign universities. As many as 58% said their end semester mark sheet will affect admissions to these universities, while 62.2% said it would affect their job prospects.

The Nationalist Congress Party’s Baramati MP Supriya Sule took notice of the survey and requested the State government to take note of the respondents’ sentiments. Ms. Sule, in a Twitter post, tagged Maharashtra Higher and Technical Education Minister Uday Samant and said, “The findings seem to be very compassionate. Requesting Uday Samant to kindly look into the findings of the survey.”

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