The new academic session for freshers may begin in universities from September and for already enrolled students in August in the wake of the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak in the country, the University Grants Commission (UGC) told universities on Wednesday.
Detailing the guidelines for examinations and academic calendar for the universities in view of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown, the commission said the exams for final semester students be conducted in July.
"Intermediate semester students will be graded based on an internal assessment of the present and previous semester. In states where the COVID-19 situation has normalised, there will be exams in July. For terminal semester students, exams will also be held in July," the UGC said.
"Universities may follow a six-day week pattern and devise proforma to record travel or stay a history of staff and students for the lockdown period. Extension of six months will be granted to MPhil, PhD students and viva-voice be conducted through video conference," it added.
The commission clarified that the guidelines are advisory in nature and varsities may chalk out their own plan taking into consideration issues pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It added that a COVID-19 cell will be constituted in every university which will be empowered to solve the issues of students related to academic calendar and examinations. A COVID-19 cell in the UGC will be created for faster decision making.
These UGC guidelines were issued in presence of Union HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank' in New Delhi. Secretary, Higher Education, MHRD Amit Khare and senior officials of the Ministry and UGC were present on the occasion.
The UGC said that universities may chart out its own plan of action taking into consideration the issues pertaining to COVID-19 pandemic but ensure social distancing.
Universities may adopt efficient and innovative modes of examinations by reducing the time from 3 hours to 2 hours. 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 and keeping in view the support system available with them and ensuring a fair opportunity to all students, it added.
Terminal semester/ year examinations for PG/ UG courses/ programmes may be conducted by universities as suggested in the academic calendar. The timing of the examination may be considered appropriate by the universities, and examination may be conducted keeping in mind 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 COVID-19 pandemic spread in different regions/state and other factors, the UGC added.
In case the situation does not appear to be normal in view of COVID-19, in order to maintain “social distancing”, safety and health of the students, grading of the students could be composite of 50% marks on the basis of the pattern of internal evaluation adopted by the universities and the remaining 50% marks can be awarded on the basis of performance in previous semester only (if available). The internal evaluation can be continuous evaluation, prelims, mid-semester, internal evaluation or whatever name is given for student progression, it added.
In the situations where previous semester or previous year marks are not available, particularly in the first year of an annual pattern of examinations, 100% evaluation may be done on the basis of internal assessments.