Students of the National Institute of Technology (NIT) in Trichy, Tamil Nadu have spoken up against the institution conducting online examinations amid the coronavirus-induced lockdown. The students say they are facing difficulties since most had to leave behind their books, laptops and other essentials at the college hostel upon the lockdown first being announced in March. Many say that they do not have the technological support to take the exams at home.
Non-Resident Indian (NRI) students as well as children of frontline workers say that they are dealing with additional stress with the exam announcement amid the pandemic.
In a letter to students on Monday, Mini Shaji Thomas, Director of NIT Trichy wrote, “The Senate of NIT Trichy has decided to conduct assessments like other NITs, many of whom have already completed their examinations. The final assessment is only of 30% weightage for two hour duration and it will be an open book test. For internal assessment of 70% weightage we have allowed for flexibility by giving credits to group projects, seminars, quizzes as suggested by some of the students.”
“If your wards have any issues with online assessment the students will get a chance to write it on campus whenever college reopens,” the Director said in the letter.
Students, however, alleged that the college did not in fact seek their opinion while taking the decision to go ahead with the exams in July.
A student from the institution said, “I left my laptop, notes and textbooks in college and the current environment is not ideal for giving online exams.”
“Many students are in places with bad connectivity and will not be able to prepare for the exams or write the exams. Skipping online exams and waiting till the reopening of college will increase the stress on students. In the next semester, students will have to attend more number of exams. The online lab exams without physically being present at the lab also make no sense,” slammed another student.
When asked about this, Mini Thomas told TNM that the students have an option to write online exams. The Director of the institute also said that notes for some of the students will be couriered from college premises.
Speaking to TNM, the Director said, “The Senate decided to conduct online exams for junior year students because we have successfully conducted exams for final year students. We conducted the exams comfortably for the students, the exams were only for two hours and the students were given 45 minutes to upload the answer sheets. The students did not require an active internet connection and 99.9% students attended the exams.”
The Director said that while the exam results are yet to be announced, companies were ready to take the students for placement. “This is why we conducted the exams. We did not want the final year students to be denied placements because we didn’t conduct the exams,” she said.
For the junior year students, Mini Thomas said, “The administration has given them two options: either to attend online exams or write offline exams once regular college resumes. Many parents and students asked us to conduct online exams because the next term starts by August. The students and parents do not want to carry forward these exams to the next academic year.”
When about many students not having access to textbooks, Mini Thomas said, “Over 200 students are still staying in the hostel so the students can collect the notes from their friends. We have also couriered the books of some students who informed us about the issue. Though we cannot send the books to all the 3,000 students, we can help. We have also created online study material for the benefits of the students.”
Many students however arr not convinced and have been registering their protest on social media too.