The Worst Nightmare of Final Year Students: Taking Exams During a Pandemic


The Worst Nightmare of Final Year Students: Taking Exams During a Pandemic

Illustration: Robin Chakraborty

As the month of September draws closer, it brings with it much apprehension for students across India. Not only are the NEET and JEE exams for prospective medical and engineering students respectively on course to be held in the first week of the month, despite widespread protests from students and student unions across the country, the University Grants Commission (UGC) has also directed that all final year college and university exams must also be held before the end of the month, without which students cannot be promoted.

There have been several calls for the college exams to be cancelled and students to be graded based on internal assessment due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, but the Supreme Court, in a decision announced today, has ruled that internal assessment will not suffice, and that final exams must be held.

The final exams for colleges have been postponed multiple times already this year, and for the same reason that students and political leaders are asking for them to be cancelled. With the number of positive cases in the country continuing to rise, those seeking the cancellation of the exams are citing the safety of students as their motive. The first instance of exams being postponed was in March, when the pandemic had only begun making its presence felt. Now, with India having the second-highest number of cases globally, the situation seems even more dire than it did all those months ago.

However, during the arguments heard in the Supreme Court, the UGC had clarified that its September 30 deadline for states to conduct college exams was not a diktat. The court agreed, and has allowed states to further postpone the exams under the Disaster Management Act. Those states looking to hold exams after the deadline set by UGC must contact UGC to set a date more suitable for conducting the exams in view of the pandemic.

With many students appearing for the NEET and JEE exams already in despair over having to appear during a pandemic, it remains to be seen how many states try to avert a similar situation with the college exams and postpone them once more.