The new academic session for freshers may begin in universities from September and for already enrolled students in August in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak in the country, the University Grants Commission (UGC) told varsities on Wednesday.
The admission process will begin in universities from August 1.
Detailing the guidelines for examinations and academic calendar for the universities in view of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown, the commission said the exams for final semester students be conducted in July.
The varsities may decide whether to conduct exams online or offline keeping in view the support system available with them and ensuring fair opportunity to all students.
The UGC has said the lockdown period may be considered as "deemed to be attended" by all students and if the situation demands, the universities can have summer vacations for 30 days in June.
"Intermediate students will be graded based on internal assessment of the present and previous semester. In states where the COVID-19 situation has normalised, there will be exams in the month of July. For terminal semester students, exams will be held in July," the UGC said.
"Universities may follow a six-day week pattern and devise proforma to record travel or stay history of staff and students for the lockdown period. Extension of six months will be granted to MPhil, PhD students and viva-voice be conducted through video conference," it added.
The commission clarified that the guidelines are advisory in nature and varsities may chalk out their own plan taking into consideration issues pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"A COVID-19 cell will be constituted in every university which will be empowered to solve the issues of students related to academic calendar and examinations and a COVID-19 cell in the UGC will be created for faster decision-making," the commission said.
The UGC has recommended that universities may adopt alternative and simplified modes and methods of examinations to complete the process in shorter period of time.
"Universities may adopt efficient and innovative modes of examinations by reducing the time from 3 to 2 hours. The exams may be conducted in offline or online mode, as per their ordinances or rules and regulations, scheme of examinations, observing the guidelines of social distancing and keeping in view the support system available with them and ensuring fair opportunity to all students," it said.
"The timing of examination may be considered appropriately by universities. Incase the situation does not appear to be normal in view of COVID-19, in order to maintain social distancing for safety and health of students, grading of students could be composite of 50 per cent marks on the basis of the pattern of internal evaluation adopted by universities and the remaining 50 per cent marks can be awarded on the basis of performance in previous semester only," it added.
According to the UGC, the internal evaluation can be continuous evaluation, prelims, mid-semester, internal evaluation or whatever name is given for student progression.
"In situations where previous semester or previous year marks are not available, particularly in the first year of annual pattern of examinations, 100 per cent evaluation may be done on the basis of internal assessments. If the student wishes to improve grades, he or she may appear in special exams for such subjects during next semester," the guidelines read.
Universities and schools across the country have been closed since March 16 when the central government announced a countrywide classroom shutdown as one of the measures to contain the COVID-19 outbreak.
Later, a nationwide lockdown was announced on March 24, which has now been extended till May 3.
The UGC had formed two committees to deliberate on issues arising due to the lockdown to avoid academic loss and take appropriate measures for the future of students.
One of the committees led by Haryana University Vice-Chancellor R C Kuhad was formed to look into the ways of conducting exams in universities amid the lockdown and work on an alternate academic calendar.
The second committee, to suggest measures to improve online education, was led by Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) Vice-Chancellor Nageshwar Rao.
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