CHENNAI: Tamil Nadu colleges are opposing calls to conduct university semester exams online, and prefer to wait for the pandemic to subside, so in-person exams can be held. Since colleges have been shut and exams postponed due to the spread of COVID-19, the Congress' student wing - National Students' Union of India (NSUI) - recently asked the University Grants Commission (UGC) to conduct exams online. Some States have been considering this idea to avoid prolonging the academic year.
But in Tamil Nadu, college managements opine that instead of diluting the quality of exams by conducting them online, it would be better to wait for the COVID caseload to reduce, and then conduct physical exams.
"Our final-year graduate students studied the last two years online, and it's clear that the quality of their education is less than in previous batches. Many students from this batch can't write proper in-depth answers, which is worrisome. If they pass out this year without writing physical exams, it would have a huge impact on their careers. Besides, nothing can replace in-person learning and exams," said the principal of a government arts college in Chennai.
"Phones and other gadgets used for online classes have become a distraction to our students, as they were not very exposed to the virtual world previously. They won't take online exams seriously, and won't learn anything," said a teacher of another government college in the city.
Officials from private colleges in the city too shared this view. "We should not make online exams a habit as it would have serious consequences on the higher education system," said DG Vaishnav College principal Santhosh Baboo.
He pointed out that unlike the previous two waves of COVID, when colleges were converted into COVID Care Centres, things are better now, and hopefully, the caseload will decrease by the end of January, following which physical exams can be held in phases.
Guru Nanak College principal MG Ragunathan feels that even if the number of cases doesn't reduce by February, the State government shouldn't act in haste and opt for online exams. "We can conduct two semester exams together in March or April, depending on when the situation improves. But conducting online exams is a strict no. We are repeatedly telling our students to prepare for offline exams," he said.