UGC Guidelines: Punjab CM writes to PM seeking review of UGC directive of final exams

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, urging him to review the UGC directive that mandated final examinations in colleges and universities by September-end.

The University Grants Commission (UGC) on July 6 had announced that final-year examinations in universities will have to be conducted by the end of September, deferring the schedule from July in view of a spike in COVID-19 cases in the country.

“UGC may be asked to reiterate its earlier issued guidelines of 29th April 2020, wherein it had been clearly mentioned that the guidelines were advisory in nature and each state/university would chart out its own plan of action taking into consideration the issues pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Singh said in his letter to Modi.

He has also sought permission to let the Punjab government adhere to its July 3 decision on cancellation of university and college examinations in view of rising novel coronavirus cases.

Taking into account the COVID-19 situation and attendant issues of safety of students and staff, the state government had on July 3 decided to cancel all pending undergraduate and postgraduate final-term examinations and to promote students on the basis of performance in previous years and semesters, an official release quoting the chief minister said on Saturday.

“In addition, we have also allowed conduct of examinations for the purpose of improvement of grades for interested students, once the situation becomes conducive,” he said.   “This would ensure academic credibility, career opportunities, future prospects and fair and equal opportunity for students in both urban and rural areas,” Singh stressed. The state higher education minister had written to the Union Human Resource Development Minister on July 10 in this regard, the chief minister said in his letter.           Singh noted that the “battle against COVID-19 has entered a significant phase with the number of cases increasing exponentially and various studies pointing to peaking of cases over the next few months”.           

“In view of this rising trend of cases, I am not sure whether the situation will be conducive for conducting offline physical examinations by September,” he said. Conducting physical examination will also involve huge logistical and operational challenges, especially in view of the large number of college and university buildings, and hostels having been taken over by district administrations for COVID-19 management purposes, the chief minister said. On the other hand, “conducting online examinations for such a large number of students, majority of whom reside in rural areas without assured access to computers/laptops and internet, is also not possible in the state,” Singh said. 

Soon after home ministry orders and the pursuant guidelines of the UGC, the chief minister had said that he does not consider the situation to be conducive for holding exams in the state in the light of the COVID-19 situation.