On 11 February 2022 University Grants Commission ( UGC), New Delhi issued a notice to Higher Education Institutions ( HEIs) to reopen and conduct classes and examinations in offline/online /blended mode. Following the instructions of UGC the HEI were reopened almost after two years in February- March 2022. The notice issued in the wake of declined Covid cases in India created a new challenging situation for the administrators of the institutes. Before the declaration of lockdown in March 2020 offline classes and examinations were the routine and regular methods in HEIs in India. The opportunity of conducting the offline classes was available after almost two years. Therefore it was quite natural for universities and colleges to prefer offline learning mode. Having managed to impart education through either online or offline or blended modes, they now face problem…. whether the examinations should be conducted offline or online? Post-Covid this is really a peculiar type of situation HEIs are facing! It should be remembered that as per UGC’s notice of February 2022 the examinations can also be conducted in offline/online/hybrid mode.
The Minister of Education, Maharashtra State has indicated that there would be offline University/ College examinations in the state in June-July 2022. Delhi University, Rabindra Bharti and Jadhavpur universities in West Bengal and some engineering and professional institutes in Odisha have decided to conduct offline examinations. It can be anticipated that more or less same type of decisions would be taken by other Indian HEIs for the simple reason that offline examinations had been only the means to assess the students in the past.
Examinations are basically the means to assess and evaluate the knowledge, information and potential of students. There may be arguments for and against offline and online examinations. Both the modes have advantages and disadvantages. During March 2020 and February 2022 online examinations were only the dominant means to assess the students in Indian HEIs. During this period the education was imparted through online teaching. Therefore the students got used to online learning and examination. In general student organizations are opposing online examinations for many reasons. University and college teachers have different opinions on this issue. Some support the students and some are of the opinion that online examinations are mockery of the education system. They say that it’s difficult to assess the knowledge, abilities and potential of students and also that hard working, intelligent and sincere students may be at loss due to online examination system.
Irrespective of the mode of conduct of examinations (Offline/online /blended ),the important point is that acceptable degree of uniformity in the assessment of the students’ knowledge about the subject is being maintained. The absence of uniformity in assessment will definitely result into disparity in final results of the examinations which will directly affect future prospects of students. High Power Examination Coordination Committees consisting of eminent academicians and administrators can be set-up to seek solution to this issue.
Dr. Aqueel Khan
Former Professor and Head,
University Post Graduate Teaching Department of Biochemistry,
RTM Nagpur University,