West Bengal students demand online exams and assessment

There wasn’t enough classroom instruction for offline exams, they say, but administrators and professors object

There wasn’t enough classroom instruction for offline exams, they say, but administrators and professors object

Students across West Bengal are demanding that the exams be held online this year, their argument being that there is not enough classroom teaching this semester to equip them for the offline exams. While some universities in the state have caved in to their demand, many others – especially those based in Kolkata – are firm on conducting exams offline, even in the face of student protests.

Rabindra Bharati University, where police had to be called in recently during violent student protests, and Jadavpur University, have made it clear that they will hold exams in offline mode. The University of Calcutta, which has nearly 160 colleges affiliated to it, has yet to make an official announcement, although it has made public its preference for offline mode. University students have already started protesting on College Street, where the university’s administrative office is located.

Among the institutions that have bowed to student demand for online exams are Vidyasagar University in Midnapore and Kalyani University. Kazi Nazrul University in Asansol, on the other hand, has decided to postpone the exams which were due to take place next month.

“For the conduct of the upcoming undergraduate and postgraduate (even semester) examinations, respectively, the chairpersons of the undergraduate study councils and the members of the PG faculty councils have recommended the offline examinations. A meeting will be held with the Principals of the affiliated colleges on May 27 for their opinion on the method of the exams. All such recommendations and opinions will be submitted to the Syndicate on June 3 for final review and decision,” said University of Calcutta Vice-Chancellor Sonali Chakravarti Banerjee.

There is clearly not much sympathy, especially among teachers and administrators, for the students who protest. Teachers are almost unequivocal in their opinion that students are looking for the easy way out, having grown accustomed to lenient online grading during the pandemic, and that online exams will only hurt students in the long run. Students, on the other hand, argue that since classes have been held online for most of the year, exams should also be held online. Teachers counter that if protests could take place offline, why not exams?

“They want an easy way out; they are only looking for short-term gain. They don’t realize that it is their prospects who will be harmed if they are rated online; they won’t easily find a job,” a university official said. The Hindu.

“Last year, exams were held online due to unprecedented circumstances. But with the Disaster Management Act no longer in effect, how can online exams be justified?” the official asked.

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