Read in detail UGC Guidelines on Examinations, Academic Calendar for Colleges, Universities amid Coronavirus COVID19 Lockdown

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New Delhi, April 30, 2020: The University Grants Commission (UGC) said on Wednesday that the new academic session would start from August and September. The session of old students will start from August while the session of new students will start from September.

The universities have to develop a fool-proof plan before the resumption of session, strictly following the norms of “social distancing” and other required precautions, to avoid any eventuality arising due to COVID-19. Admissions to the UG and PG programmes for the session 2020-21 may be completed by 31.08.2020. If necessity arises, provisional admissions may also be made and relevant documents of qualifying examination may be accepted up to
30.09.2020.  The Academic Session 2020-21 may commence from 01.8.2020 for old students and from 01.09.2020 for fresh students.

The UGC report states, “The whole world, including India, is passing through unprecedented difficult times due to the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic. As all universities and colleges are closed due to national lockdown, the teaching – learning process and research activities have been badly disrupted. The schedule of Terminal Semester examinations has also got disturbed.

In such scenario, it is joint responsibility of all the stakeholders to manage multiple key issues relating to academic activities in the institutions. While it is crucial to follow measures taken by the Government to contain the spread of COVID-19, it is also important to continue the educational process making effective use of technology and other available options. Future may have many uncertainties but difficult times demand quick appropriate decisions. We must be optimistic that we can reinvent work again and engage the students in effective and constructive ways.

The University Grants Commission (UGC) has been engaged with this issue and contemplating measures to face the challenge of safeguarding the interests of the academic fraternity in general and students in particular. Confronted with vital issues of examinations and academic calendar, UGC constituted an Expert Committee to deliberate on these issues and make recommendations to address them. The composition of the Committee is given as Annexure.

In the present circumstances, the major concerns are as follows:
1. Ensuring the health, safety and security of the students, faculty and staff and also to continue academic activities.
2. Conducting the examinations and declaration of results.
3. Facilitating the students to participate in further admissions, placement processes, research and training etc.
4. Charting out a plan for the next academic session.

In the current scenario, the following issues have been deliberated by the Expert Committee:
1. Modes of Teaching-learning Process : The universities are adopting offline mode, i.e. conducting classes in face to face interaction, with a few exceptions and that too, for very few courses. Some of the universities lack adequate IT infrastructure for effective delivery of education through elearning mode. In order to tackle the pandemic COVID-19 in the educational institutions and to ensure continuity in teaching- learning process, MHRD and UGC have issued certain guidelines and advisories from time to time and have taken concrete steps to impart online education by making the best use of e-resources which are available on www.ugc.ac.in.The MHRD and the UGC have been emphasizing to continue with the teaching-learning process using online modes such as Google Classroom, Google Hangout, Cisco Webex Meeting, You Tube Streaming, OERs, SWAYAM Platform and SWAYAMPRABHA (available on Doordarshan (Free dish) and Dish TV), etc. The faculty members have contributed a lot for the benefit of students during the lockdown period by using a number of tools like WhatsApp groups, other social media tools and emails. But the students also expect that the faculty must maintain a “substantive contact” with them. So, even after posting the lecture material online, teachers need to maintain communication with the students and discuss course material with them on a regular basis.

2. Academic Calendar for the Session 2019-20 : The universities have completed the examinations of the odd semester during December2019/ January-2020 and the results have been declared. Most of the institutions had already covered 60% to 70% of teaching-learning process for ongoing Even Semester before the dispersal of classes in March, 2020. Further, the remaining part of the curriculum has been attended/ being attended through online mode as the norms of “social distancing” are to be followed by all educational institutions in the interest of the students, faculty and the staff. In fact, the norms of social distance will be required to be maintained by the educational institutions for quite some time, even if the normalcy returns by the first week of May, 2020. Therefore, for the sake of safety of the students, faculty and staff, all universities are required to reschedule the academic calendar 2019-2020.

 

3. Modes of Examinations: Like the modes of teaching-learning, most of the universities follow the physical mode of examinations, with a few exceptions. On this aspect also, some of the universities lack adequate IT infrastructure for conducting online examinations. The hiring of private agencies for conducting online examinations also does not seem feasible in view of the fact that examinations are to be conducted simultaneously by all the universities. Therefore, keeping in view the basic infrastructure available at the level of the institutions and accessibility of internet to the students, especially in remote areas, it is not feasible to uniformly adopt the online mode of examination at this juncture.

4. Academic Calendar for the Session 2020-21 : Several School Boards are yet to complete their Class XII Examinations, as of now. Examinations for the Even Semester in the universities are also getting delayed due to
national lockdown. Naturally, all these things will delay the admission process in the university system for the next academic session. In order to tackle this situation, the universities may require some amendments in their academic calendar for the academic session 2020-21.

5. Functioning of Laboratories: Like teaching, research has also suffered during the lockdown period as the laboratories are closed. It would be appropriate that during the period of lockdown, laboratories are maintained by the research staff/ teachers of the concerned department(s) on rotation basis, without violating the norms of “social distancing”. However, the universities may take appropriate decision to allow PIs/ Ph.D. scholars and Post-Doctoral Fellows to maintain labs/ conduct research, with strict compliance of the guidelines/ directives issued by the appropriate authorities/ Governments from time to time.

 

GUIDELINES : Based on the recommendations of the Expert Committee, the following Guidelines have been framed for the Examinations and the Academic Calendar in the Universities. The guidelines are advisory in nature and each university may chart out its own plan of action taking into consideration the issues pertaining to COVID – 19 Pandemic.

EXAMINATIONS: 1. Maintaining the sanctity of academic expectations and integrity of examination process, the universities may adopt alternative and simplified modes and methods of examinations to complete the process in shorter period of time in compliance with CBCS requirements as prescribed by UGC from time to time. These may
include MCQ/ OMR based examinations, Open Book Examination, Open Choices, assignment/ presentation-based assessments etc.

2. The universities may adopt efficient and innovative modes of examinations by reducing the time from 3 hours to 2 hours assigned to each examination, if need arises but without compromising the quality, so that the process may be completed in multiple shifts and, at the same time, sanctity to evaluate the performance of a student is also maintained.

3. The universities may conduct Terminal / Intermediate Semester / Year examinations in offline / online mode, as per their Ordinances/ 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.

4. Terminal semester / year examinations for PG/ UG courses/ programmes may be conducted by universities as suggested in the academic calendar keeping in mind the protocols of “social distancing”.

5. For intermediate semester/year students, the universities may conduct examinations, after making a comprehensive assessment of their level of preparedness, residential status of the students, status of COVID-19 pandemic spread in different regions / state and other factors.

In case the situation does not appear to be normal in view of COVID-19, in order to maintain “social distancing”, safety and health of the students, grading of the students could be composite of 50% marks on the basis of the pattern of internal evaluation adopted by the universities and the remaining 50% marks can be awarded on the basis of performance in previous semester only (if available). The internal evaluation can be continuous evaluation, prelims, mid-semester, internal evaluation or whatever name is given for student progression.

In the situations where previous semester or previous year marks are not available, particularly in the first year of annual pattern of examinations, 100% evaluation may be done on the basis of internal assessments. If the student wishes to improve the grades, he/she may appear in special exams for such subjects during next semester.

This provision for intermediate semester examinations is only for the current academic session (2019-20) in view of COVID-19 pandemic, while maintaining safety and health of all the stakeholders and sanctity and quality of examinations.

6. In addition to the above, following steps are required to be taken: The scheme of “Carry forward” (for the subjects in which the student has failed) will be allowed for the current academic year in the universities
and every student will be promoted to next semester/year. However, such students may clear the examination for the course in which he/ she has failed/ remained absent, whenever the examination is held next. The students may be allowed to improve their grades by offering one additional opportunity to appear for the current semester course(s) in succeeding semesters/ years or through supplementary examinations.

The modalities for examination and other related activities be applied uniformly across all courses in a university. The students should be informed well in advance (at least one week) about the conduct of examinations and other related activities. Regarding the requirement of minimum percentage of attendance for the students/research scholars, the period of lockdown may be treated as ‘deemed to be attended’ by all the students/ research scholars.

 

The universities may adopt appropriate strategies to facilitate the UG/ PG students pursuing Projects/ Dissertations, in view of the prevailing circumstances. The universities may consider to assign review-based/ secondary data-based projects  or software-driven projects, instead of laboratory-based experiments or field/ survey-based assignments to these students.

 

The universities may conduct the practical examinations and Viva-Voce Examinations through Skype or other meeting apps, and in case of intermediate semesters, the practical examinations may be conducted during the ensuing semesters.

12.The universities may conduct the Ph.D. and M. Phil. Viva -Voce Examinations through Video Conferencing using Google, Skype, Microsoft Technologies or any other reliable and mutually convenient technology, subject to the approval of the concerned statutory authority of the university, in compliance of Clause 9.6 to 9.9 of the UGC Regulations, 2016 regarding award of M. Phil / Ph.D. Degree. While conducting the Viva-Voce Examination through Video Conferencing using electronic means, it may be ensured that it will be open to be attended by members of the Research Advisory Committee, all faculty members of the department, research scholars and other interested experts/ researchers, besides the Research Supervisor and Expert(s)/Examiner(s), as applicable. It is also imperative on the part of the university to maintain due record of the same, including the report signed by Expert(s)/ Examiner(s) appointed for conducting the same.

13.The M.Phil. or Ph.D. students, whose maximum period for submission of M. Phil./Ph.D. Dissertation/ Thesis prescribed under relevant rules/ regulations/ ordinances of the concerned universities is expired/ expiring during the Corona pandemic period, may be allowed to submit their Dissertation/ Thesis, including completion of pending formalities, within six months from the date of expiry of regular prescribed period. The extension of six months may also be considered for those students who are yet to submit their Dissertation/ Thesis.

14.Every University shall establish a cell for handling student grievances related to examinations and academic activities during COVID-19 pandemic and notify effectively to the students. 15.The UGC will establish a Help Line for monitoring student grievances related to examinations and academic activities during COVID-19 pandemic.

ACADEMIC CALENDAR
1. The following calendar is suggested for the academic session 2019-2020: The Academic Calendar is suggestive in nature. The universities may adopt / adapt it after making a comprehensive assessment of their level of preparedness, residential status of the students, status of COVID-19 pandemic spread in their city / region /state and other factors.

Academic calendar

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– If situation so demands, the universities can have Summer Vacations for 30 days from 01-06-2020 to 30-06-2020. In that case the teaching-learning through various modes can be held up to 15-05-2020 and subsequently Finalization of Dissertation etc. may be completed from 16-05-2020 to 31-05-2020.

2. The universities should develop a fool-proof plan before the resumption of session, strictly following the norms of “social distancing” and other required precautions, to avoid any eventuality arising due to COVID-19.

3. Admissions to the UG and PG programmes for the session 2020-21 may be completed by 31.08.2020. If necessity arises, provisional admissions may also be made and relevant documents of qualifying examination may be accepted up to 30.09.2020.

4. The Academic Session 2020-21 may commence from 01.8.2020 for old students and from 01.09.2020 for fresh students. The following calendar is suggested for the academic session 2020-2021:

Some General Guidelines
1. All the universities may follow a 6-day week pattern to compensate the loss for the remaining session of 2019-20 and the next session 2020-21. 2. In view of the importance of “social distancing”, universities may take necessary steps to ensure that the students are given exposure to laboratory assignments/practical experiments through virtual laboratories, sharing of the recorded visuals of laboratory work and digital resources available for the purpose. The link provided by Ministry of Human Resource Development for virtual laboratories to facilitate the students of science/ engineering/ technology streams may be suitable for such purposes.

3. Every institute should develop virtual classroom and video conferencing facility and all teaching staff should be trained with the use of the technology. 4. The universities should prepare e-content/e-lab experiments and upload the same on their websites.

5. The universities should strengthen the mechanism of mentor-mentee counselling through a dedicated portal on university website to impart timely guidance and counselling to the students. Besides, the faculty advisor and supervisor assigned to each student should maintain regular communication with the students.

 

6. The universities may devise a proforma to record the Travel/ Stay history of the staff and students for the period when they were away from the university due to lockdown, so that necessary precautions may be taken in specific cases, if required. In addition, the universities will strictly comply with all precautions and preventive measures to curb the spread of COVID -19.

7. In order to overcome such challenges in future, the faculty should be adequately trained for the use of ICT and online teaching tools, so that they complete about 25% of the syllabus through online teaching and 75% syllabus through face to face teaching.

8. In view of the present scenario and future uncertainties: the universities may adopt and implement these Guidelines in a transparent manner by making alterations/ additions/ modifications/ amendments to deal with particular situation(s) in the best interest of students, educational institution and the entire education system,   if the university faces difficulty in making admissions as per the existing policy, it may adopt alternative modes of admission process, if otherwise legally tenable.

 

In case of educational institutions located at places where the Government (Centre/ State) have imposed restrictions on gathering of public, the institutions may plan accordingly. In any case, the above recommendations shall not cause any restrictions on the guidelines/directions issued by the appropriate Government/competent
authority.

Notwithstanding the above Guidelines regarding the resumption of session, conduct of examinations and commencement of next academic session, every university/ college has to ensure that it is prepared in all respects to carry out the academic activities following necessary advisories/guidelines/directions issued by the Central/State Government, MHRD or UGC from time to time to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Acknowledgement: The Guidelines on Examinations and Academic Calendar for the Universities, in view of
COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown, has been prepared on the basis of the Report of the Expert Committee constituted by the University Grants Commission under the Chairmanship of Prof. R. C. Kuhad, Former Member, UGC and Vice Chancellor, Central University of Haryana, Mahendergarh, Haryana along with members which includes Prof. A. C. Pandey, Director, Inter University Accelerator Centre, New Delhi; Prof. Aditya Shastri, Vice Chancellor, Banasthali Vidyapith, Banasthali, Rajasthan; Prof. Raj Kumar, Vice Chancellor, Panjab University, Chandigarh; Prof. Upinder Dhar, Vice Chancellor, Shri Vaishnav Vidyapeeth Vishwavidyalaya, Indore, M.P; Dr. Surender Singh, Joint Secretary, University Grants Commission and Dr. Vikas Gupta, Joint Secretary, University Grants Commission (Member Co-ordinator).

The Expert Committee also co-opted Prof. V. K. Jain, Vice Chancellor, Tezpur University, Assam; Prof. G. D. Sharma, Vice Chancellor, Atal Bihari Vajpayee University, Bilaspur, Chhatisgarh; Prof. Appa Rao Podile, Vice Chancellor, Central University of Hyderabad, Telangana; Prof. Rajesh Kumar Malik, Dean, School of Law, Central University of Haryana, Mahendergarh and Prof. Sanjiv Kumar, Dean Academics, Central University of Haryana, Mahendergarh.

Dr. K. P. Singh, Former Joint Secretary, UGC and Dr. Diksha Rajput, Deputy Secretary, UGC have made valuable contribution in the finalization of the Guidelines. The document has been fine-tuned with the necessary support and relevant inputs provided by Prof. Rajnish Jain, Secretary, University Grants Commission. The Commission approved the document at its meeting held on 27.4.2020 through Video Conferencing. UGC sincerely acknowledges and appreciates the valuable contribution of all the members of the Expert Committee and other UGC officials.”

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