online exams


All India Students Association (AISA) called for students to hold up placards and upload pictures online to protest against online exams.

As a continuation of the struggle against online Open Book Examination (OBE) for final year students, AISA conducted a ‘protest from home’ on 17 May 2020. The method of protest according to a press release by AISA was “students held placards at their homes, flats, hostels, PGs, etc and protested on social media using the hashtag #DURejectsOnlineExams and #DUAgainstOnlineExams.”

Students from 25 colleges across the University participated in the protest, which also included mass emailing to the Vice-Chancellor, Dean of Student’s Welfare, and Joint Controller of Examinations against online exams. The students took this protest to raise their grievances against online exams, calling it privileged and ableist. Some students pointed out that how out of place online exams are in a public university where students come from remote parts of India and all social backgrounds.

The Press Release also alludes to AISA’s 1500 student survey which found that more than 70% of these students will not be able to participate in online university practices. It ends with AISA’s resolve to continue the fight against online OBEs.

Damni Kain, one of the protestors and a member of AISA went to twitter to protest against online exams and also laying down several well thought points against online exams. She points out how results would “depend upon how lucky one is to have an internet connection working good enough at the point of exam.” She also points out that those who do not have good cameras will not be able to upload the answer script in a way that it is readable. She calls this move an “anti student move which snatches the opportunity to complete education for many.”
Feature Image Credits: AISA

Prabhanu Kumar Das

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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


Paridhi Puri


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Delhi University proposes to conduct open book examinations online, a storm of dissent unleashes on Twitter. Students, activists, and organisations unite to trend #DUAgainstOnlineExams.

On 13th May, Wednesday, Professor Vinay Gupta, the Dean of Examinations, Delhi University (DU) released a proposal for conducting online examinations for final year students in the form of Open Book Examinations. The statement was made public the next day. This proposal explained the course of action to be undertaken involving printing and scanning of question papers and answer sheets, for which an extra hour would be provided to the students. However, this proposition is largely condemned by various student organisations for its “exclusive” nature.

Bodies like Students’ Federation of India (SFI), National Students’ Union of India (NSUI), and All India Students’ Association (AISA) among others have strongly condemned this move. They raised concerns on the lack of access to the internet for students from remote areas or general inability to use the same, unaffordability of smartphones or laptops were considered. Lack of study material and the implications of these on creating unfair disadvantages were also raised. These organisations suggest that this proposal for online examinations is, hence, highly discriminatory and fails to provide a fairground for evaluation.

All students, organizations, and allies were requested to join a call on Twitter to trend the hashtag #DUAgainstOnlineExams against the decision of the administration on 15th May, from 2 to 3 p.m. to highlight the issues of the students. Post 2 p.m., the aforementioned hashtag made it to the trending list on Twitter with several students and organisations speaking their minds and raising various concerns via tweets and memes.


Damni Kain, former Delhi University Student Union (DUSU) Presidential candidate and student activist posted a thread discussing the situation at large and voicing concerns of students. She addressed the unfair disadvantages of Kashmiri students in her tweet- “How will visually impaired students give online exams? What about students of Kashmir where internet connection is still at a 2G speed? Women students who are burdened with unequal domestic work, especially in the lockdown, are equally disadvantaged.”

In a statement released by the NSUI, the organisation requested the administration of the University to reconsider its decisions and come up with a more feasible alternative to tackle the situation at hand. It also suggested that in case online examinations are a must, the board should be lenient and test only the topics covered in class and not online.

The University recently released guidelines for open book examinations, details of which, can be found HERE.

Feature Image Credits: Niharika Dabral for DU Beat

Aditi Gutgutia
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A look at the inherently privileged notions behind the avenues explored by Delhi University (DU) regarding end semester examinations and their feasibility.

DU has released forms to register for even semester examinations online, a move which shows that the total cancellation of exams during the pandemic is not on DU’s agenda yet. In the light of the pandemic and seeing how cancelling exams is not a viable possibility, multiple reports suggest that DU is looking at the option of online examinations to conduct end semester examination, an option Jawaharlal Nehru University had also explored last year during the university lockdown. While the idea does completely do away with the risks of catching the disease, there are some inherent privileges behind the very concept.

A Public University in India does not just cater to a certain section of society or certain parts of the country, DU has students from all over the country coming from every section of society.  Even though India is the second-highest in several internet users, only around 50% of the population has access to it, and less so in rural areas. Adding to that, the frequent internet shutdowns and the situation in Kashmir created by our government, the very idea that everyone will be able to access the internet to give their exams is privileged in itself.

The first-hand account of a Kashmiri DU student shows how online exams are inaccessible for students in the valley. They say “If there are online exams, it will be very difficult for the students who are in Kashmir right because there is only 2G internet speed here. Sometimes we can attend all the classes and the connection is good but sometimes even in downloading a single page, it takes a lot of time and effort. It is unpredictable. Even today during the Commerce exam there were a lot of problems, the connection was not proper and was getting disconnected again and again.”

There should be an emphasis on the fact that learning through online classes and e-resources may not be feasible given the limited or no access to computers and the internet, particularly in rural areas.

Aan Mary Suresh, a student of Jesus and Mary College said, “I wish DU understood that more than our country’s lack of technical expertise to conduct exams online, we as students are neither well equipped nor prepared to take these exams at one moment. I am sorry but Zoom classes are not helpful. Students are new to this form of learning and the experiment whether this would be successful should not be on us.”

The online process of paper setting, submission of answers, and evaluation are susceptible to tampering and pilferage. An extremely weak university server, one which cannot even bear the internet traffic of filling exam registration forms just exemplifies that online examinations are not practicable at all.

The Delhi University Teachers’ Association, in its feedback to the University Grants Commission, said, “As per the MHRD/DU circulars, teachers have engaged with students through e-resources, this process is far from being adequate due to the lack of preparedness and institutional help provided to students and teachers. Students have reported facing issues of connectivity and access to sufficient bandwidth to be able to attend the online sessions. Given our student demography, it is important to recognise that a large section of students come from outside Delhi and that an equally significant number comes from underprivileged backgrounds and the environment at their homes is unlikely to be conducive for learning.”

It further added that the University and colleges have so far not been able to collect data on how many students have accessibility to the e-resources and lectures shared by teachers. Given the diverse population of students to whom the University of Delhi caters to and the student strength, the means and modes of assessment and examination adopted in the context of the lockdown should ensure that the solutions offered do not further marginalise the already marginalised sections of students or create a situation where large sections of students lose out due to the circumstances they face.

If Delhi University proceeds with online examinations; it won’t only make a mockery of higher education, but also set a dangerous precedent of survival of the fittest- an extremely prejudiced notion that just takes privileged people in its purview. Online Exams cannot happen in this economy, period.

Feature Image Credits: Prabhanu Kumar Das for DU Beat


Prabhanu Kumar Das

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Paridhi Puri

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Adding to the current controversy over conducting of examinations online for students of Delhi University, a dean wrote to the Vice-Chancellor suggesting against it.

Sachin Maheshwari, the Dean of Faculty of Technology at Delhi University (DU) on Wednesday, 24th April wrote to the Vice Chancellor highlighting issues with online modes of education and recommended alternative routes. 

With reference to the efforts of faculty members to provide academic resources through digital means, Mr Maheshwari said that they could only supplement classroom teaching and had to be made available to all students. He said that many students will suffer due to a lack of access to computers, smartphones or high-speed internet. He also said that effective teaching and conducting of experiments could not take place through online modes.

Mr Maheshwari also raised concerns of a possible “rat race” wherein restoration of teaching-learning and online evaluation may be proclaimed for “nefarious reasons involving financial, political interests.” This could, thus, prove detrimental to academics, he argued.

He referred to the measures taken by other institutions such as the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) which have advanced summer vacation, instead of going through online evaluations. He said that the need of the hour was to successfully weather the pandemic and make up for the lost time with “holistic team efforts” once the situation gets better.

The University Grants Commission (UGC)  had constituted a seven-member committee, headed by Haryana University vice-chancellor R.C. Kuhad, to look into higher education matters such as examinations and continuing the academic session. However, as reported by The Print, this committee also seems to be against the idea of conducting online exams, as it feels India does not have the required infrastructure for it.

The committee was supposed to submit a report to the government by 13th April but hasn’t done so. But sources aware of the developments said the committee is not in favour of online examinations, a thought echoed by officials in the UGC as well. Instead, discussions are on to postpone exams until whenever colleges and universities can re-open.

An important to note is that the evaluation for papers of the odd semester is yet to be completed for several papers. Several members of the Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA) has actively spoken out against online examinations and said that it will not beIt is imperative that the University Administration take a decision soon, keeping in mind the interests of all students and faculty members.

Featured Image credits: DU Beat Archives

Khush Vardhan Dembla

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In her last editorial of her tenure, our Print Editor talks about the socio-political and cultural connotations of expecting productivity in the midst of a Pandemic.

The University of Delhi (DU) is a revered dream for many, with its soaring cut- offs at the top ten colleges, promises of placements (mostly for commerce- based courses), and the affordability of its fee structure which allows undergraduate students to get a degree for as low as INR 50,000. Owing to the hullabaloo and cry over privatisation, one cannot say whether the last factor will sustain much further or not, but for now it is safe to estimate that this University is not home to selectively privileged youngsters.

Therefore, in unprecedented times like these with the Covid-19 Pandemic, DU’s 12th March Press Release, which insists upon maintaining the “continuity of the online teaching-learning process” is premised upon a sweeping generalization of social, economic, cultural, and political privilege.

With over 75 colleges, having an approximate total strength of nearly 1.5 lakh regular students, it is the infrastructure and physical access to the resources (libraries, notes, Internet, classes) available in respective DU colleges that is integral to the teaching-learning process for many students. The national lockdown due to the Pandemic has confined students, like all others, and many students have had to return to their respective homes.

The foundation of the belief that it is possible to continue an education process in the illusion of normalcy is the myth that the accessibility to resources is fair-play for all. Take for instance, the Kashmiri students in the University who have difficulty downloading byte-sized PDFs due to the restricted Internet access, and one would understand that video lectures on Zoom, Hangouts, and reading on JSTOR are synonymous with a utopian fancy in many students’ homes.

This is not to say that professors and peers in colleges are entirely ignorant of the aforementioned limitations, but there is significant pressure upon students nonetheless to go about internal assessments and coursework, as if it is an extended vacation.

To be fretting over grades and submission deadlines is not a privilege available to many whose mental health gets threatened in abusive or patriarchal households. Especially for women in India, many of whom choose DU because of its affordability and residential facilities that are liberating as compared to conservative, controlling families, being forced to stay in an inevitable lockdown can be a severe trigger for anxiety and, in some cases, trauma as well. There are urban and rural households alike which put a gendered burden of housework and chores like cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc. upon the women in the family – a factor that is not only troubling in terms of its sexist and patriarchal strain, but also because it practically limits how much time women can devote to an education they fought to attain in DU.

In times like these when Instagram influencers and many others have taken the approach of selling the ideals of ‘productivity, evolution of self, finding yourself’ among other things, it is integral for teachers and administrators of an educational institution like DU to realise the exploitative and harmful burden an undeveloped, inaccessible system of ‘online teaching-learning’ puts on young minds. This needs to be considered before generalising and declaring that students can afford to be studying more, finishing course work properly, and working hard, from the apparent comfort of their homes.

In this last editorial for this paper, I thus urge the students, teachers, and administrators of this vividly diverse University to acknowledge unequal privileges, and be kinder.

Anushree Joshi

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