With COVID-19 rising in Bengaluru and the rest of Karnataka over the past week, engineering students of Visvesvaraya Technological University (VTU) are unhappy with the university mandating them to write offline exams. Karnataka on Thursday reported 47,754 cases with 30,540 cases recorded from Bengaluru alone. According to BBMP War Room, between January 12 and January 18, the city had reported 36,767 COVID-19 cases. Further, students who have COVID-19 have also been asked to write the exams which started on Thursday, January 20, by some institutions even though the university circular has suggested that additional tests can be conducted for them at a later time. There are 107 engineering colleges affiliated with government-run VTU in and around Bengaluru alone, and more in the rest of the state. Until January 17, the students had the option of attending classes in the online mode or attending classes in person.
The exams which started from January 20 are set to continue over a period of the week are internal assessment exams. The final semester exams are set to be held from February 11. The performance of these exams will contribute to studentsâ€™ semester grades. Given the weightage these exams carry, students are demanding that the university holds the exam in online mode or at a later time. Many students have taken to Twitter to express their dissatisfaction too.
Punith, a final year student at the Government Sri Krishnarajendra Silver Jubilee Technological Institute (SKSJTI) said many teachers including the principal of the college himself have tested positive for coronavirus in the recent days. â€śAs a result, our syllabus itself has not been finished. Their asking us to write exams now puts our health at risk,â€ť he said.
Speaking with TNM, Chandrasekhar KG, SKSJTI principal who is in home isolation after testing positive for coronavirus said that individual colleges have no decision-making power and have to follow the university order.
Farooque, a student of HKBK College of Engineering located in the outskirts of Bengaluru, said, â€śThe university can easily make internal assessment exams online and not put many students and their families at the risk of infection. This is the same reason that schools are shut except for classes 10 and 12. How can our safety be ensured when even students who have tested positive are also made to come and write the exams?â€ť
Punith added that since many hostels and paying guest accommodations have shut including the girlsâ€™ hostel of the college, many outstation students have opted out of the exams. However, according to Anvit Kateel, State General Secretary and VTU in-charge of the National Student Union of India (Congress), college managements are telling students to write the exams saying that if there is a later date, the question paper is likely to be harder. â€śIn many colleges, the management is coercing the students to write the exam stating that if the exams are held later then they will have to face a far more difficult question paper than the present test,â€ť he said. There are many colleges which have more than 10 students with COVID-19 per batch. â€śThe whole exercise will only increase the number of cases. The separate room for positive students is not a foolproof solution. Students are afraid that they might become carriers of the virus to elderly persons in the family,â€ť he added.
So far, their requests to the Higher Education Department for postponing in-person exams have not yielded results, Kateel said.
Despite repeated attempts, relevant VTU officials and officials of the Higher Education Department could not be reached for comment.