Academics for holding final year, master’s exams to check varsities session jam

Publish: 8:04 PM, October 21, 2020 | Update: 8:04:PM, October 21, 2020

DHAKA, – Educationists have suggested universities authorities for holding exams of only honours final year and master’s to check session jam being created by long closure of educational institutions due to Covid-19 pandemic.

Vice-Chancellors of the country’s leading public universities have termed the suggestion as positive but they are yet to take any decision, considering the issue of drawing and managing a large number of students on the campuses a challenge amid Covid-19 situation.

“Country’s public universities can mull bringing their final year and master’s students to the campuses maintaining all the health protocol for taking exams as they are at more risk to academic losses,” said National Professor Dr Serajul Islam Choudhury.

Talking to BSS, he said the authorities of the universities should give more importance to final year and master’s students as they are going to face the worst consequences of academic losses.

For the students of other sessions, he suggested merging academic activities of one semester with another to reduce session jam.

The public universities began holding online classes a month after the shutdown of classes though none could manage to ensure 100 per cent students attendance except BUET and Dhaka Medical College (DMC). But both the institutions are yet to take any decision on holding exams.

Students of final year and postgraduate level were supposed to sit for 8th semester (final year exam for yearly system) and the second-semester exams respectively by this year to wrap up their university studies but the pandemic shattered their hopes of appearing in the exams. Engineering and Medical students are also facing the same situation.

Even, if a six-month semester is completed in four months it will take at least eight months to complete the rest of their study, Mehedi Hasan, a final year student of Dhaka University told BSS.

If the universities hold yearly exams (non-semester) in 10 months, it will also take 10 months to complete their study, he added.

If the varsities don’t come up with an alternative plan to hold the exams, students can’t avoid a session jam, he also said, explaining why he fears that a session jam is inevitable.

Dr Syed Manzoorul Islam, a retired professor of DU English Department, also echoed National Professor Choudhury, saying, “Holding exams of the final year and master’s students could be a good solution as we have to face Covid-19 for a long and we have to normalise things gradually instead of staying at home for indefinite time.”

“For this, Covid-19 test facilities must be ensured at universities for students to maintain all the preventive health protocol,” he said.

Besides, he suggested placing students in quarantine for at least 14 days after entering the campus. The university authorities also have to ensure intensive monitoring so that no student can go out unnecessarily as it will raise concern for both students and teachers, he added.

Meanwhile, the authorities of Dhaka Medical College (DMC) has already brought the final year supplementary examinations aspirants to the dormitories and placed them in mandatory 14 day-quarantine. The exams are scheduled to begin from October 28, which were supposed to be held on May this year.

“If we can complete the supplementary exams properly maintaining all health guidelines, we will think of bringing students of other batches to the dorms and holding their examinations,” DMC Principal Khan Abul Kalam Azad told BSS.

The Dhaka University (DU) authorities said they will allow those departments which have manageable number of students to hold examinations of final year and master’s students.

“The departments concerned can hold examinations but students will have to appear in their respective exams staying outside of the campus because it is not possible to open dormitories because of possible second wave of Covid-19 in winter,” said DU Pro-VC (Academic) Dr ASM Maksud Kamal.

“Holding exams of only final year and master’s students would be a positive approach as well as a good steps to check session congestion but in that case all universities will have to go forward with the same method to avoid any indiscipline and it needs combined efforts from all concerned including education ministry and the UGC,” said Bangladesh Agricultural University (BAU) Vice Chancellor (VC) Professor Dr. Lutful Hassan.

For the students of other sessions of BAU, he said it would be possible to recover all the academic losses within one year after reopening of the classes and exams without minimizing the duration of semesters and syllabus.

Professor Dr. Zakir Hossain of Chattogram University Law Department said the CU administration should take a quick decision to take the postponed examinations as it is not possible to give auto-promotion at university level.

However, VC of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) Satya Prasad Majumder said minimizing course duration and syllabus will not be a good solution as it may hamper quality of education.

As the BUET is running academic activities online, it has increased class-duration from eight weeks to twelve weeks so that students can understand the lessons better, he said.

He preferred continuing online class for master’s students as a significant number of them are doing jobs.

“We are planning to introduce online courses after covid-19 pandemic for master’s students, which is also allowed by university ordinance and it creates additional opportunity for foreign students to do courses,” said the VC.

At Jahangirnagar University (JU), final examinations of different batches of around 30 departments were postponed which were scheduled for March and April.

Students of the batches, whose examinations were postponed, are instructed to start classes of the next year and a committee has been formed to assess the process, JU VC Professor Dr. Farzana Islam told BSS.

“According to the recommendations of the body, we will take our next course of action in this regard,” she added.

Chattogram University (CU) has been running online classes from September 6 but participation in such classes is very poor. The authorities are yet to take any decision about holding the postponed examinations.

CU VC Professor Dr Shireen Akter said they are conducting online classes properly and they will hold the postponed examinations once the university reopens.

The authorities have yet to take any decision or have any initiative apparently to check the looming session jam.

Rajshahi University (RU) authorities have started online classes a few days ago with a very low attendance of students due to various limitations and they are yet to take any decision regarding holding postponed examinations.

Pro-VC of RU Professor Ananda Kumar Saha said, “After reopening the university, we will be able to minimize the session jam by taking a concerted effort.”

Talking to BSS academics also placed a set of suggestions including changing and minimizing the examinations and others evaluation method, minimizing the syllabus and holding mixed classes at indoor classrooms and open-air classrooms after reopening.

They also emphasized slashing holidays, holding extra classes and conducting other academic activities on weekend, shortening and even withdrawing the vacations once the universities reopen.