With universities and colleges across Tamil Nadu slowly turning into COVID care centres, it would be difficult for the institutions to begin the new academic session or fresh admission process, including for engineering students, from August first week as scheduled by University Grants Commission (UGC).
A senior official from the Higher Education Department told DT Next that UGC has issued a circular to the State that admissions to UG and PG programmes for 2020- 21 will have to be completed on or before August 31. “It (UGC) also said the academic session 2020-21 should commence from August 1 for old students and from September 1 for fresh students,” he said adding “the Commission has also ordered that institutions should develop a foolproof 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.
The official said with slowly universities and colleges getting converted into COVID19 patient care units, it would be difficult to follow UGC guidelines in starting the fresh academic session for the students.
Stating that the State government is planning to write to UGC about the difficulties in following new academic schedule in Tamil Nadu, he said going by the current situation, the academic year cannot be started before September. “Similarly, it would be difficult for the government even to conduct the final semester for the students,” he said. The official also ruled out conducting online exams since most of the colleges and universities do not have required IT infrastructure for conducting virtual exams. “Engaging of private partners for conducting online examinations also is not going to work out since examinations are to be conducted simultaneously by all the universities,” he added.
Association of University Teachers (AUT) president N Pasupathy said even faculties will face several difficulties coming to the institutions if they were converted into corona care centres. Asserting that the Higher Education Department should discuss with faculty associations before deciding on reopening colleges, the AUT leader said the government should allay the fears of the staff before reopening the institutions. “Many professors and staff are stuck in their native, and it would be difficult for them to reach their respective workplaces,” he added.