The coronavirus pandemic has pressed pause on a lot of departments and services around the world. In India, the education sector, including schools and colleges, have shut its gates since early March, this year. Now many institutions are conducting online classes with great difficulty. Technology may have made lives easier, even in a pandemic, the ability to work from home for employees and online classes has truly been a blessing. However, uncertainty looms over students worried about their fate in the immediate future.
This uncertainty has spread itself to universities in Kolkata, who are waiting with bated breath for the University Grants Commission and West Bengal’s Higher Education Department to declare guidelines that will predict the fate of scheduled semesters and the pattern of conducting them, this year. Universities have been closed since the 16th of March and are expected to reopen on the 10th of June.
Annual exams were scheduled to be held in the months of April-May, have been postponed until the end of the lockdown. Students studying under Choice Based Credit System (CBCS), are required to undergo semester examinations. However, the closure of classes has resulted in syllabus being halted and the inability to make up for this lost time has resulted in the decision to revamp the semester pattern.
“We are yet to decide on the scheduling of the semester system. The UGC recommendations are expected to come up on April 24 and the Higher Education department will also come up with the guidelines. We will act accordingly. We are now laying great emphasis on online classes so that the academic activities are not hampered during the lockdown,” said Sonali Chakravarti Banerjee, V-C of Calcutta University.
Universities like Jadavpur University, Presidency University, West Bengal University and Maulana Abul Kalam Azad University of Technology (Makaut) have decided to wait for guidelines from the state government. While Makaut has decided to conduct examinations online as placements depend primarily on these examinations, West Bengal University will conduct examinations once the lockdown is lifted. These universities are also awaiting a recommendation from All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE) before deciding on semesters. The state government, on the other hand, has urged UGC for consultation before a decision is made regarding examinations of both undergraduate and postgraduate exams.
“The placements are linked with the final semester so we need to mop up the total process of the final semester as quick as possible,” said Partha Pratim Lahiri, Registrar of Makaut. The fate of students, unfortunately, is on the line here. Many undergraduate students wishing to pursue further education are left hanging on a thread as they struggle to find information regarding application and admission details in other universities. Placement cells are also struggling to keep up with the demand from companies for new employees and the inability of universities to conduct exams. The whole world has come to a standstill and this is gravely impacting the economy, education departments, freshers, etc. All that we can do is wait for a speedy recovery from this dread.