Bengaluru Christ University students protest decision to hold online examinations

Students say they are being forced to choose between an online exam on July 13 or a physical examination when the colleges open again, but without a preparatory leave.
Bengaluru Christ University students protest decision to hold online examinations

Several non-final year students of Christ University in Bengaluru have voiced protests over the University’s decision to hold the semester-end examinations, which had been postponed in March due to the lockdown, on July 13. The exams will be held online, a decision that the students say was taken without consulting them. 

The students have said that in the middle of a pandemic and a lockdown in many areas, students are being forced to choose between an online exam in one day or a physical examination when the colleges open again, but without a preparatory leave.

The students made several representations to the University, asking that the examinations be cancelled, citing the order of the Department of Higher Education, Government of Karnataka, that only final year students need to write exams and all other students can be promoted to the next class without holding an exam. The government had then stated that the other students will be allowed to attend classes of the next year, based on their internal marks and performance in the previous semester.

In response, the University has said that the order pertains to state and private universities that fall under the Department of Higher Education. "CHRIST (Deemed to be University) is guided by the UGC Regulations and Guidelines and as such the examinations scheduled from 13 July 2020 as per the decision of the University in accordance with the UGC Guidelines will be conducted as per the schedule announced," the University said in a statement to the students.

“Our last class was on March 10 and shortly after that, we all went back home. In April and May, we did not have any classes and later we were all provisionally passed. In mid-May, online classes for the next year started and internal assessments for the new year too were held on June 30,” says Ajay Raj*, a law student at Christ who just started his fourth year.

However, around mid-June, the University informed the students that they either have to opt for the online exam or appear for a physical exam when the university opens but they will not get any preparatory leave. So students have no choice but to choose the online exam, Ajay adds. 

Students told TNM that the University has charged them Rs 500 extra aside from the examination fees already paid by them to install the new server for online exams. However, the University has not made any arrangements to ensure every student has proper access to an internet connection or a system to write the exams, they say.

“I cannot afford a Wifi connection. The mobile network I use allows me only 1 GB data per day. So to appear for the exam, I will need to buy a 2GB recharge every day. I don’t get internet access inside my house so I have to sit in the balcony or my terrace. And if my internet connection is snapped, even for two minutes, I will be flagged as resorting to unfair means and my result will be withheld,” another student at Christ tells TNM. 

He adds that when classes for the new semester began on June 3, when his internet connection was briefly disrupted due to the rains, he lost attendance for that class. 

Another student told TNM that when they were all sent home in the beginning of the semester, they did not expect to be away for so long and most students have left their study material and books behind. 

“We are not in possession of necessary notes. Personally, I live in a PG, I left my notes back at the PG and I am left looking for online material which is not readily available. This is just my case. There are scores of people stuck like this. Even teachers are not in possession of their own materials,” Rajeev*, another student at Christ, tells TNM.

An official notification sent out by Christ advises students to take the online examination conducted from July 13 since there is uncertainty on when and how long it will take to conduct the on-campus examinations, and that a long gap in taking the examinations may pose its own challenges in the familiarity of the learnings of the courses.

“But we have been studying for six new subjects for the past two weeks. We gave tests for that too. Now we have to study for subjects that we learnt way back in March. But if we don’t appear now, we’ll have to appear in the middle of a new semester without any preparatory leave. The University is not giving us any choice,” Ajay added.

An internal poll was conducted by the students and 90 per cent of the 2,000-odd students who took part in the poll have sought that the online examination be cancelled and the students be provisionally passed based on internal marks.

Christ University Vice-Chancellor Father Abraham told TNM that 94.47% students had registered and agreed to write the examination to be held on July 13. In case of any connectivity issues that students face during the examination, the V-C said, "Any such issue will be taken care of and retest will be held." 

(*names changed)

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