On 6th May, Delhi Technological University (DTU) announced that it will conduct the final semester examination of all programmes online and the dates will be announced later.
The notice also said that the university will conduct examinations through three modes – combined examination of subjective questions and multiple-choice questions; multiple-choice questions-based examination and case-study based examination. DTU has also introduced negative marking this semester, where each wrong answer will lead to deduction of marks.
It also issued a notice yesterday detailing the guidelines for grading students on their major research projects, also requiring final year students to publish their work in a reputed Scopus indexed journal. Most of the core branches of engineering involve hardware-based projects. The lockdown has made laboratories where those resources and readings are set-up inaccessible. This has resulted in students not being able to complete their projects. For those students who do not have the resources to appear for such an examination, the only alternative is to wait out till the university re-opens and then appear in the offline exams thereby leading them in gambling with their future prospects of jobs or higher education.
Projects that could be completed during the lockdown were wrapped up only recently. But, due to the coronavirus outbreak, most conferences have been deferred and foreign and Indian journals have suspended or postponed their review processes, making it difficult for students to get an acceptance. Moreover, it is mandatory as per university guidelines to make a hefty payment of thousands of rupees after receiving the acceptance.
A student further added: “Further, the stringent criteria is to only publish in a good quality Scopus or SCI or SCIE indexed journal, whereas even a good quality conference publication can only be awarded a maximum of nine out of 10 marks. The stringent condition of awarding of grade based solely on this parameter is extremely unjust to students.”
This has led to severe backlash from the student community, on the grounds of lack of access to the internet, academic resources and online infrastructure. Furthermore, the institution’s decision to introduce negative marking is abhorrent –in a time where students are going through mental, emotional and financial crises. The students wrote to the Vice-Chancellor, “The University had issued guidelines for conducting online exams. However, until now there has been no communication whatsoever on the dates of the examination nor the portal on which the exams will take place. Considering how this is a new platform for students and they need sufficient time to prepare for the exams as well as get accustomed to the platform, the time remaining for addressing these issues is extremely small. The decision of introducing negative marking in online exams is causing panic and distress to students considering how they are all final semester students and their entire careers depend upon these exams. The uncertainty in such a system is unprecedented and the students are completely in the dark regarding how various technical issues and glitches are going to be addressed by the university.” The students also wrote about their grievances to the Chief Minister and have started an online petition for the students to appeal against online exams.
A final year student from Jammu told Careers360, “I came to my home town much before lockdown on account of Holi break after my mid-semester examinations. I didn’t bring my books and laptop with me. Here in Jammu, I have connectivity issues and inadequate resources to complete my major project and appear for proposed online examinations.”
A final year student at DTU told DU Beat that the alternative given by the university is that if you do not want to give the exams, you must write to the administration to stop the online evaluation till an offline evaluation can be done. “But if the students go through this process, they won’t be able to sit for placements on zero days”, he added.
He further appealed to the DTU Student Association to get in touch with the administration who is drafting the curriculum advisory and guidelines to brainstorm on another alternative which solves the students’ grievances.
Feature Image Credits: Paridhi Puri for DU Beat
Feature Image Caption: DTU Student appeals against Online Exams on Facebook