In view of the COVID-19 outbreak, the University Grants Commission (UGC) constituted an Expert Committee to deliberate vital issues in the field of academics and make recommendations to address them. The Committee deliberated on topics such as: modes of teaching-learning process, academic calendar for the session 2019-20, modes of examinations, academic calendar for the session 2020-21, functioning of laboratories etc. Based on the recommendations of the Expert Committee, the UGC framed and issued the following guidelines:
- Universities may adopt alternative modes and methods of examinations (MCQ/ OMR based examinations, Open Book Examination, Open Choices, assignment/ presentation based assessments etc) to complete the process in shorter period of time in compliance with CBCS requirements as prescribed by UGC, and reduce time from 3 hours to 2 hours for each examination, so that the process may be completed in multiple shifts.
- Universities may conduct Terminal / Intermediate Semester / Year examinations in offline / online mode, as per their Ordinances/ Rules and Regulations, Scheme of Examinations, observing the guidelines of “social distancing”.
- For intermediate semester/year students, the universities may conduct examinations, after making a comprehensive assessment of their level of preparedness, residential status of the students, status of pandemic spread in different regions / state and other factors. In case it is not viable owing to prevailing circumstances, grading could be composite of 50% marks on the basis of internal evaluation and the remaining 50% marks can be awarded on the basis of performance in previous semester only. If previous semester or previous year marks are not available, 100% evaluation may be done on the basis of internal assessments. Student may appear in special exams subsequently for improving grades. Students should be informed well in advance (at least one week) about the conduct of examinations and other related activities.
- Carry forward scheme (for the subjects in which the student has failed) will be allowed for the current academic year and every student will be promoted to next semester/year. However, such students may clear the examination for the course in which he/ she has failed whenever the examination is held next.
- Students may be allowed to improve their grades by offering one additional opportunity to appear for the current semester course in succeeding semesters/ years or through supplementary examinations.
- The period of lockdown may be treated as ‘deemed to be attended’ by all the students/ research scholars.
- For UG/ PG students pursuing Projects/ Dissertations, the universities may consider assigning review-based/ secondary data-based projects or software-driven projects.
- Practical examinations and Viva-Voce Examinations may be conducted through Skype or other meeting apps, and in case of intermediate semesters, the practical examinations may be conducted during the ensuing semesters.
- Universities may conduct Ph.D and M.Phil via voice examinations through video conferencing in compliance of Clause 9.6 to 9.9 of the UGC Regulations, 2016 regarding award of M. Phil/ Ph.D. Degree. M.Phil. or Ph.D. students, whose maximum period for submission of M. Phil./ Ph.D. Dissertation/ Thesis is expiring during the Corona pandemic period, may be allowed to submit their Dissertation/ Thesis, including completion of pending formalities, within six months from the date of expiry of regular prescribed period.
- Every University shall establish a cell for handling student grievances related to examinations and academic activities during the pandemic and notify effectively to the students. The UGC will also establish a Help Line for monitoring student grievances related to examinations and academic activities.
2. ACADEMIC CALENDAR
The guidelines suggest the following academic calendar for the current academic year (portion which remained incomplete) :
|Continuation of Teaching- Learning through online learning/ distance learning/ social media etc.||16.03.2020 to 31.05.2020|
|Finalisation of Dissertation/ Project Work/ Internship Reports/ E-labs/ Completion of Syllabus/ Internal Assessment/ Assignment/ Students Placement Drive etc.||01.06.2020 to 15.06.2020|
|Summer Vacations||16.06.2020 to 30.06.2020|
|Conduct of Examinations: Terminal Semester/ Year Intermediate Semester/Year||01.07.2020 to 15.07.2020 16.07.2020 to 31.07.2020|
|Evaluation and Declaration of Result: Terminal Semester/ YearIntermediate Semester/ Year||31.07.2020 14.08.2020|
The guidelines state that the calendar is suggestive in nature and that the universities may adopt / adapt it after making a comprehensive assessment of their level of preparedness, residential status of the students, status of COVID-19 pandemic spread in their city / region / state and other factors. It also provides a calendar for the academic session 2020-21.
- 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.
- Admissions to the UG and PG programmes for the session 2020-21 may be completed by 31.08.2020. Provisional admissions may also be made and relevant documents of qualifying examination may be accepted up to 30.09.2020.
- Academic session 2020-21 may commence from 01.08.2020 for old students and from 01.09.2020 for fresh students.
3. GENERAL GUIDELINES:
The advisory also gives the following general guidelines for Universities/ Institutes:
- Follow a 6 day week pattern to compensate the loss for remaining session of 2019-20 and next session 2020-21
- 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. Link provided by Ministry of Human Resource Development for virtual laboratories may be utilised.
- Develop virtual classroom and video conferencing facility and train all teaching staff for use of the technology.
- Prepare e-content and upload the same on their websites, and strengthen mentor-mentee counselling mechanism through a portal on their websites.
- Devise a proforma to record the Travel/ Stay history of the staff and students for the lockdown period, so that necessary precautions may be taken in specific cases, if required.
- Strictly comply with all precautions and preventive measures to curb the spread of COVID -19.
The advisory states that the guidelines are advisory in nature and each university may chart out its own plan of action taking into consideration the issues pertaining to COVID – 19 Pandemic. It further provides that the universities may adopt and implement these Guidelines in a transparent manner by making alterations/ additions/ modifications/ amendments to deal with particular situations in the best interest of students, educational institution and the entire education system.
The guidelines further states that if the university faces difficulty in making admissions as per the existing policy, it may adopt alternative modes of admission process, if otherwise legally tenable, and in case of educational institutions located at places where the Government (Centre/ State) have imposed restrictions on gathering of public, the institutions may plan accordingly.