By Hrishit Roy
1st September, 2020
The Supreme Court on 28th August 2020 ruled in favour of the University Grants Commission (UGC) that final year students cannot be promoted without the exams being held. This came as a shock to a huge number of the student populace, especially those who were promoted by their universities previously. Some of them have also taken admission in other colleges for their PG degrees, further complicating things, as this means they have been out of touch with their final year syllabus for months by now.
MAHE was among the few universities who conducted their examinations for the final year students.
As the number of cases keep on growing in behemoth proportions every day in the subcontinent with no end in sight, this decision will seemingly add to the angst of the student populace, but who is actually to blame? The disparity between the Centre and the states in order to take a uniform decision might be one of the causes because of which the students are suffering.
“If they told us earlier that we had to give the exams it would have been fine, I was preparing for CAT all this time... Now to go back and study for the final year doesn’t make much sense and is really unfair,” said Soumyadeep Mukherjee, a final year graduate from Maulana Abul Kalam Azad University of Technology, one of the prime Universities of West Bengal. He was one of the many students who was promoted for his final semester based on his previous performances without any sort of exam being conducted. This was a decision taken by the State Government keeping in mind the health concerns of the students amidst the COVID 19 Pandemic.
The situation is comparatively even worse for students who got promoted without their exams being taken and have taken their subsequent admission to different colleges for their Post Graduate degrees. “Nobody has the right to play with our lives like this, such a decision should have been notified to the students much earlier on. I have paid my fees for my first year’s postgraduate and classes have started already. I have classes for 6 days a week from morning to evening. I do not know what is going to happen next unless they stick to their old plan of promoting students based on the old performances as it was decided.” quoted Ayaan Houssain, another student of MAKAUT who took admission to a different university to pursue his higher studies. At a time when the economy of the country has already taken a big hit with a lot of people losing their jobs and a recession incoming, having a big sum of money blocked amidst the pandemic is an extra hurdle that these students are going to face along with having to prepare for the exams in a systematic manner.
On a parallel linear, some universities took the insightful decisions of conducting their final year exams. Manipal Academy of Higher Education was one such university. The final year exams were held despite the protests of the students – By giving the students with legitimate issues the opportunity of giving the exam once they are back on campus while simultaneously changing the platform for the online exams so the students would be more comfortable with it. “Initially I was not at all on board with the college holding the exams without taking into consideration the problems we students are facing at home during the lockdown, but I dropped all my grudges and thank my college for taking the exams on time after getting to know about the Supreme Court hearing. I guess things worked out for us in the end,” said a final year student of Manipal Institute of Communication who preferred to remain anonymous.
Thus we can see through the parallels how the final decision of Universities directly affected the outcome of the students lives in a positive or negative manner. But should that be the case where the university has to step in to decide the future of students and student’s don’t get a say? On a broader level, the decisions of the universities were based on the guidelines of the given by the respective State governments without taking into account the decision of the centre, which prompted UGC to take this matter up to the Supreme Court.
The respected Supreme Court’s decision certainly is looking at the benefit of the students for the long term, but the short term negative impact it is having on the huge number of students seems like something that could have been entirely avoided if the state governing bodies were more in sync with the centre. This doesn’t mean that the state ruling party needs to be the same as the central ruling party. Opposition in politics is always going to be there and is very much necessary in a democracy. But at the same time, politics should not be getting in the way of education in any way whatsoever as a disruption in education will result in a loss for the entire country.
As the ruling of the Supreme Court says that the exams are compulsory but states can postpone the exams based on how the pandemic is panning out to be like in the state, the universities are at standby to get further instruction from their respective state governments. It is yet to be seen how the exams pan out and if any changes could be made to make the lives of students bit easier and also to reform the system a bit so that such things do not repeat further.