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For final year students, uncertainty clouds road to the future

Anxiety continues to grip final year/terminal semester students in West Bengal – like in many other States – as uncertainty clouds their road to the future.

While their universities strongly rule out holding of conventional exams amidst the pandemic and are preparing to declare results on the basis of an alternative method of assessment, the University Grants Commission remains firm that the exams be held, that too by September. The matter now is being considered by the Supreme Court – the next hearing is on August 10 – and pending a decision the students aren’t sure whether to prepare for exams or not. In the end, they just might have to.

Also read | As UGC goes ahead with final year exam plan, students and teachers highlight digital divide, anxieties

“As my mentor — a renowned educationist — used to say, ‘Higher education has many bosses but no master.’ Today his words ring truer than ever. For us, everybody is boss — the Union HRD Minister, the State’s Education Minister and the UGC. Who do we listen to? I know students are in a state of anxiety, but one thing is certain. Conducting exams by September in the present circumstances is impossible,” said a Vice-Chancellor who did not want to be named.

Some students keen on conventional exams

“If the Supreme Court says [on August 10] that it does not want to interfere in the matter, the UGC gets an upper hand. Only a university with enough muscle can overrule the UGC and in West Bengal we don’t have many universities like that. Besides, some students are keen on [conventional] exams because they fear their results might not be acceptable in other States,” the Vice-Chancellor said.

Also read | Student groups slam UGC decision on final year exams

But as of now, universities in West Bengal are going ahead with preparing the results, which were to be published by July 31 but are now delayed because of reasons that include the imposition of weekly lockdowns. “There are about 50 colleges affiliated to my university, many of them in remote location. We are in the process of collating the results,” said Prof. Basab Chaudhuri, Vice-Chancellor of the West Bengal State University.

Also read: Degree exam schedule not announced yet, but students asked to pay fee

Subiresh Bhattacharya, general secretary of the West Bengal Vice-Chancellors’ Council and Vice-Chancellor of North Bengal University, also told The Hindu that colleges under him were in the process of declaring the results. “How can we hold exams in this situation, when the country is recording more than 50,000 COVID cases a day? We cannot risk the lives of students for the sake of a degree,” Mr. Bhattacharya said.

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Printable version | Sep 20, 2020 1:56:13 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/for-final-year-students-uncertainty-clouds-road-to-the-future/article32286877.ece

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