Other States

West Bengal, Centre on collision course over final-year exams

A file photo used for representational purpose only.

A file photo used for representational purpose only.   | Photo Credit: K. Murali Kumar

West Bengal and the Centre appear to be a collision course over the future of college students in their final year/terminal semester, with the State deciding to ignore the latest University Grants Commission (UGC) guidelines that require examinations to be held by September 30.

UGC to take action if States cancel exams: Government

Last month the State had announced that considering the rising number of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases, universities should evaluate students through alternative methods, with 80% weightage on the best aggregate percentage obtained in any of the previous semesters/years and 20% on internal assessment.

This decision in favour of an alternative method had ended a long period of uncertainty for students. The State government also said the process was to be completed by July 31 — in keeping with an earlier set of UGC guidelines, issued on April 29 — so that the academic year did not get prolonged and students could plan their futures.

Student groups slam UGC decision on final year exams

Following the directive, colleges across the State had begun the process of preparing mark sheets when the UGC issued its revised guidelines, last week, asking universities across the country to hold conventional exams for final year/terminal semester students before September 2020.

The West Bengal government shot off letters to the Centre, saying the revised guidelines went against the spirit of the federal structure enshrined in the Constitution as education was on the concurrent list. The State has also decided to go ahead with the assessment of students through the alternative method.

“We are about to announce the results. We have come too far to roll back the process,” Subiresh Bhattacharya, general secretary of the West Bengal Vice-Chancellors’ Council and Vice-Chancellor of North Bengal University, told The Hindu.

“Given the current situation, how can we be sure that conditions will be favourable in September to hold exams? The number of COVID-19 cases is on the rise; many villages and colleges suffered damage due to Cyclone Amphan, and some 40% of our colleges are serving as quarantine centres. On top of all this, we still don’t know when the trains are going to start running. Imagine the risk and hardship we will be subjecting our students to,” Dr. Bhattacharya said.

West Bengal is not alone in the confrontation with the UGC. Punjab and Rajasthan have also expressed their displeasure with these guidelines. And on Saturday, Delhi too decided to do away with the exams for this year.

The Centre, as of now, shows no signs of reconsidering its decision. If anything, it appears to have only hardened its view that conventional exams cannot be done away with.

With the West Bengal equally determined to go ahead with the alternative method of evaluation so that results could be published by July 31, the fate of thousands of students, hangs fire.

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Printable version | Aug 9, 2020 6:31:26 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/west-bengal-centre-on-collision-course-over-final-year-exams/article32069171.ece

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