A student Union has written to the Bombay High Court asking the chief justice to take suo motu cognisance of the stress and anxiety final-year students have been facing due to the uncertainty regarding their final examinations.
In a six-page-long email, the Maharashtra Students’ Union (MASU) has prayed for directions to the state governments to take a decision about final-year undergraduate and postgraduate examinations and issue a resolution regarding the same.
The union says that the government decision may not entirely be a perfect one but would help them make future plans without burdening the administrative and teaching infrastructure for the new academic year, which may already be delayed.
There is no uniformity or consensus among the different universities in Maharashtra and the professional governing bodies such as The All India Council For Technical Education, The Indian Medical Council, The State Bar Council of Maharashtra & Goa, etc. whether the final-year exam in Maharashtra should be conducted or not, the email said regarding the current situation.
MASU is a student welfare organization started by Advocate Siddharth Ingle, last year, says that even usually there have been delays and lapses by universities in conducting exams. Therefore, there was a natural apprehension that the current pandemic situation in Maharashtra may cause further problems if schedules go awry.
According to a student survey conducted by MASU, in which 30,000 students across different streams, including medical students, participated, an overwhelming number of them said the exams should not be held.
They, however, said that in case a decision to conduct the exams is taken students who are unable to write the exam as victims of Covid-19, or because they were unable to reach the examination hall should be given an opportunity to write the exams as soon as possible.
The issue of final-year university exams in Maharashtra has reached a crescendo with the BJP and the state government trading more barbs. While the BJP favours holding exams, the government wants cancellation.
“In all of this, it is not clear at all, how such an important decision has come to be so casually dealt with, causing great anxiety and stress to the students, amidst a continuing atmosphere of confusion and rumours,” MASU says in the email sent through lawyer Deepa Punjani.
The Flip Flop
April 6, 2020, the Maharashtra State’s Higher & Technical Education Minister, Uday Samant formed a committee to look into the matter of examinations and the COVID-19 situation.
The committee decided to await the guidelines from the University Grant Commission (UGC).
On the same day, MASU wrote a letter to the Governor Chancellor, the Chief Minister and others with suggestions.
April 26 – A letter was also sent to UGC
April 29- UGC came out with guidelines on how students can be marked, leaving the final decision to the states.
May 5 – Samant in a Facebook address communicated that the final year (final semester exam) will be conducted, but that the decision will be reviewed in the month of June, and a final decision will be taken by June 20.
May 17 – However, in the meanwhile, Samant sent a letter to the UGC asking them to cancel the final-year exam.
May 19 – In another Facebook live, Samant reiterated the intent not to have the exam.
May 31 the Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray announced that the final-year exam would not be held in the State of Maharashtra and that average marks can be awarded to the students on the basis of their performance in the previous semesters. But no GR followed.
MASU said that in the meantime the Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari, (also the Chancellor of Public Universities in Maharashtra) has intervened saying exams must be conducted leading to further uncertainty.