In order to streamline the impact of lock-downs and social distancing on the conduct of exams, the University Grants Commission of India (UGC), constituted an Expert Committee to deliberate on the issues related to the conduct of examinations and the academic calendar during the pandemic to avoid academic loss to students. The UGC is a statutory body of the Government of India responsible for the coordination, determination and maintenance of standards of teaching, examination and research in university education, in India.
Based on the recommendation of the Expert Committee, the UGC had issued Guidelines on Examinations and Academic Calendar for Universities on 29 April 2020. Under these guidelines it was proposed to conduct examinations in July 2020.
However, in the light of rising COVID-19 cases and the likelihood of it further increasing, the Expert Committee was requested to revisit the guidelines. Pursuant to the recommendations of the committee, on 6 July 2020, UGC issued Revised Guidelines on Examinations and Academic Calendar for the Universities:
- The Universities are required to complete terminal semester/ final year examinations for the academic year 2019-2020 by the end of September 2020 in offline/ online/ blended mode.
- If a student of terminal semester or final year is unable to appear in the examination, he/she must be given an opportunity to appear in special examinations conducted by the university to ensure that the student is not put to any inconvenience or disadvantage.
- The students of terminal semester or final year having backlog should compulsorily be evaluated by conducting exams in offline/ online/ blended mode as per feasibility and suitability.
- For intermediate semester/ years guidelines as notified on 29 April 2020 will be applicable.
The Ministry of Home Affairs, keeping in mind the interest of students has agreed to grant an exemption for opening of educational institutions for the purpose of holding final term examinations. Further, the Ministry of the Ministry of Human Resource Development has formulated detailed Standard Operating Procedures for conduct of such examinations, which has been vetted by the Ministry of Health and Family Affairs.
While, the governments of Karnataka and Gujarat have decided to hold university exams pursuant to the UGC Guidelines, some governments such as Maharashtra, Delhi and Orissa have stated that they will not be able to hold exams, and that the guidelines issued by UGC can only be advisory in nature and not mandatory.