New session for freshers in universities/colleges from September

For existing students, the session may begin in August, PHD students will get six month extension while as  pending Semester exams will take place in July only in non containment zones

The academic session in universities and higher educational institutions can be started from September instead of July in view of the COVID-19 situation in the country, a panel appointed by the University Grants Commission (UGC) has recommended. The guidelines are advisory in nature.

A Covid cell will be constituted in every university which will be empowered to solve the issues of students related to academic calendar and examinations.

Two committees were constituted by the UGC to look into the issues of academic loss and online education in the wake of the lockdown in the country due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In a letter, UGC secretary, Rajesh Jain wrote, “In view of the Covid-l9 pandemic and subsequent lockdown, the University Grants Commission (UGC) constituted an Expert Committee to deliberate and make recommendations on the issues related to the Examinations and the Academic Calendar for avoiding academic loss and taking appropriate measures in the interest of students. The Expert Committee interacted with the stakeholders such as Vice Chancellors of the universities, Principals of the colleges and academia through various electronic means such as email, phone, WhatsApp, online meetings etc. and submitted its Report to the UGC. Based on the recommendations of the Expert Committee, the Commission has developed, “Guidelines on Examinations and Academic Calendar for the Universities in View of COVID-I9 Pandemic and Subsequent Lockdown”

The UGC Guidelines are advisory in nature, covering important dimensions related to examinations, academic calendar, admissions, online teaching-learning and provide flexibility for adoption by the universities. “The universities may adopt / adapt and implement these Guidelines uniformly in a transparent manner.

In view of the location and diversity of universities and colleges, their level of preparedness, residential status of the students, status of COVID-19 pandemic spread in different regions / state and other factors, the universities, after making a comprehensive assessment of all such factors, may chart out a-plan for the examinations and the academic calendar, to deal with any sort of exigency. It is reiterated that the universities should keep in view the best interests of all the stakeholders, giving highest priority to health and safety of all concerned, following the protocols for preventive measures, while adopting and implementing the Guidelines.”

One of the committees led by Haryana University Vice-Chancellor RC Kuhad was formed to look into the ways of conducting exams in universities amid the lockdown and work on an alternate academic calendar. The second committee, to suggest measures to improve online education, was led by Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) V-C Nageshwar Rao. Both the panels submitted their reports on Friday.

“One panel has recommended that the academic session be started from September than July. The second panel has suggested that universities should conduct online exams if they have the infrastructure and means or wait for the lockdown to get over and then decide a date for pen-and-paper examinations,” a source said.

According to HRD Ministry officials, the two reports will now be studied and official guidelines in this regard are expected to be notified by next week.

“It is not binding that all the recommendations will be accepted. After deliberating on the feasibility issues and keeping the situation in mind, guidelines will be issued,” an official said.

Another hurdle in starting the academic session is the delay in conducting entrance examinations as well as the pending board exams, the panel has pointed out.

“As of now the plan is to conduct entrance examinations like NEET and JEE in June. But it is extremely important to keep reviewing the COVID-19 situation,” the official said.