All India Council of Technical Education sets exam and entrance deadline
The All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE), the country’s technical education regulator, has asked the nearly 10,000 institutions under it to begin classes for the fresh batch of students by October 15 and also complete final-semester exams by then.
The AICTE has directed the institutions, including the 3,500-odd non-IIT engineering colleges, to follow the University Grants Commission’s guidelines on mandatory holding of final-semester exams. The UGC has asked all universities and colleges to conduct last-semester exams by September either online, offline or through a mix of both.
Several academics said no timeframe could be prescribed at a time the coronavirus pandemic was still experiencing an exponential growth.
In the revised academic calendar circulated by AICTE member secretary Rajive Kumar a week ago, the council said the institutions under it would have to complete both rounds of counselling for admissions and begin classes for the fresh batch by October 15. The original academic calendar had envisaged the commencement of classes from August 1.
Admissions to BTech courses are done through JEE Main and similar entrance exams, all of which are yet to be held. The admissions to MTech courses will depend on the outcome of the final-year BTech results. The final-year BTech exams at many colleges are yet to be held because of the pandemic.
“The AICTE has relied on UGC guidelines on the conduct of exams by September. Nobody is against holding exams, but the issue is this deadline. When the situation is evolving, any deadline on exams or commencement of classes is unrealistic,” said a faculty member of the Delhi Technological University.
A UGC official said students could face difficulties in the future if the universities did not conduct exams and relied on marks of previous semesters, which would mean the mark sheets would mention that average marks had been awarded in the last semester.
“Students could end up facing some kind of stigma in their careers,” the official said.
However, former UGC secretary R.K. Chauhan did not agree with this argument.
“Exams can be conducted in any manner as decided by the universities. There is no need to mention average marks. The university will award only a specific score against the last semester. If there is an internal assessment, that may be mentioned separately,” Chauhan said.
He said exams should not be held in the current circumstances.
“If exams are held now, it may prove fatal for many students. The UGC and the AICTE should wait for the restoration of normality,” Chauhan said.
Concerns have been expressed over the conduct of online exams in a country where a very large number of students don’t have access to the Internet, or lack steady connections and also don’t have the gadgets required to appear for such tests. Questions have also been raised on the sanctity of online exams.
Ravi Bhardwaj, a lawyer who has fought cases on behalf of educational institutions, said the UGC had the power to set academic standards but their implementation would depend on the ground situation.