The Universities Grant Commission on Wednesday (29 April) released a new set of guidelines for colleges and universities in view of the COVID-19 lockdown.
The guidelines are based upon the recommendation by an expert committee constituted by UGC to deliberate and make recommendations on the issues related to the Examinations and the Academic Calendar for avoiding academic loss and taking appropriate measures in the interest of students.
It should be noted that the guidelines are suggestive in nature and universities can adjust as per their requirement and prevailing situation. The guidelines are as follows:
The guidelines stated, “The universities should develop a fool-proof plan before the resumption of session, strictly following the norms of “social distancing” and other required precautions, to avoid any eventuality arising due to COVID-19.”
The academic session 2020-21 for old students will commence from the 1 August 2020, while for the new students it will be from the 1 September 2020.
The admission in 2020-21 session for undergraduate and post-graduate programmes may be conducted between 1 August to 31 August 2020. The guidelines also stated that provisional admissions may also be made and relevant documents of qualifying examination may be accepted up to 30 September, if the necessity arises.
UGC has suggested the following calendar for the academic session 2020-2021:
UGC suggested that in the current academic year, the teaching-learning could continue through various online/distance learning modes till 31 May. In states where the situation has stabilised, the examinations could be conducted between 1 July and 31 July 2020 based on local conditions and availability.
The following table summarises the suggestion given by UGC for the current academic year:
The universities may adopt alternative and simplified modes and methods of examinations to complete the process in a shorter period of time, for example, MCQ/ OMR based examinations, Open Book Examination, Open Choices, assignment/ presentation-based assessments etc.
The guidelines state that the universities may adopt efficient and innovative modes of examinations by reducing the time from 3 hours to 2 hours assigned to each examination as well as offer the flexibility of both online and offline exams.
The Final semester/year examination should be conducted as per suggested academic calendar following the social distancing protocols.
For intermediate level students, the universities should first make a comprehensive assessment of local conditions and availability of resources and then conduct examinations. In case the situation does not appear normal, the Intermediate students may be graded based on internal assessment of the present and previous semester.
The guidelines further suggest that the M.Phil and PhD students can be given a six-month extension to complete their degrees, with viva voce examinations being conducted via video-conferencing.
Further, a COVID-19 cell will be constituted in every university which will be empowered to solve the issues of students related to academic calendar and examinations. A COVID-19 cell will be created in the UGC for faster decision making.
The universities may follow a 6-day week pattern in the next academic year to compensate for the current session. Institutes have also been advised to develop virtual classrooms and video conferencing facilities. Additionally, the universities should prepare e-content/e-lab experiments and upload the same on their websites.
The UGC also suggests, “In view of the importance of “social distancing”, universities may take necessary steps to ensure that the students are given exposure to laboratory assignments/ practical experiments through virtual laboratories, sharing of the recorded visuals of laboratory work and digital resources available for the purpose.”
The report also suggests measures to be prepared for similar exigencies in the future. It states “the faculty should be adequately trained for the use of ICT and online teaching tools, so that they complete about 25 per cent of the syllabus through online teaching and 75 per cent syllabus through face to face teaching.”