CA students request ICAI to postpone exams scheduled from Nov 1

“NEET and JEE were just one day affairs. CA exams are conducted for a longer duration and hence we are really scared,” one student said.
Students in exam hall
Students in exam hall
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As the buzz around entrance exams like the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) and Joint Entrance Examinations (JEE) settles down, hundreds of students across the country are demanding that the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) postpone the exams scheduled in November. In order to grab the attention of ICAI and the council members, students and a few other stakeholders have also been using social media with a common hashtag #PostponeCAexams.

As per a notification from the ICAI, the examinations for students pursuing the intermediate and final courses in Chartered Accountancy in India are scheduled to be held from November 1 to November 18. The ICAI, on October 8, released a detailed Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) document for the students, examiners and parents that is to be followed during the days of examination. The SOPs included points like how bigger examination centres will be divided into different wings that will accommodate only 100 candidates and adequate physical distance will be maintained inside the exam hall.

However, the SOPs and ICAI’s silence over the students’ demands have irked the students. Speaking to TNM, Priya (name changed), a student from Chennai said that the ICAI had cancelled the exams that were scheduled to happen in May 2020 due to concerns around the COVID-19 situation. “But now, the situation is worse (than what it was in May 2020) with a huge spike of COVID cases and deaths. We are very much afraid about being asymptomatic and/or being carriers and spreading (the virus) to our parents and grandparents,” she added.

The ICAI conducts exams for CA intermediate and CA final students twice a year –  May and November. In 2020, the exams that were scheduled to begin on May 2 were postponed by the institute to July 2020 and eventually cancelled. The ICAI announced that students who had registered for the May 2020 attempt can write their exams in November 2020, with all the benefits around exemptions from papers (Students who have scored 60 and above in any of the papers are exempted from having to write that paper again, in their next attempt) and fees paid intact.

A notification issued by the ICAI on October 8 mentioned that candidates who present themselves to the examination centres with high temperature will not be allowed to continue the exams. They will instead be asked to write the exam in May 2021. This also applies to those whose exam centre or residential address falls in a containment zone. “Why should we wait six months to write the exams for which we prepared already? Students in classes 10 and 12 and now even NEET aspirants have been given a chance to write their missed test without a delay of six months,” Vijay (name changed), a CA Final student in Chennai told TNM.

Wondering if the ICAI has permission from the respective state governments to hold examinations with at least a 100 students in a centre, Priya added that even if it had received permission, it is a huge risk to be exposed amidst so many people in these dire times. The SOP released by ICAI on October 8 said, “The examination centres shall identify their different wings of the premises separately highlighting them as Wing A, B and so on. Each wing shall be a standalone examination centre. There shall be separate entry to each wing to an extent possible.” Referring to this point, Priya said that this would mean multiple exam centres (with 100 candidates) can exist within a single compound and that would still be risky.

Partha (name changed), a CA Intermediate student from Bengaluru, told TNM that while these guidelines look great on paper, the possibility of things going wrong on the ground is very high. “NEET and JEE were just one day affairs. CA exams are conducted for a longer duration and hence we are really scared. Even for those one-day examinations, we had a lot of complaints about how things went in the exam centres. We don’t want to lose out on the tests because of this tension on us,” he added.

While students continue to request ICAI to reconsider its decision, a few stakeholders have reportedly decided to approach the court, seeking postponement. 

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