UGC questions Christ University over online exams

 The regional office of the University Grants Commission (UGC) has questioned the decision of Christ deemed-to-be-university to conduct its end semester examinations in the online format.

In a letter to the university, the UGC South West Regional Office also brought into question the institute’s mode of evaluation.

The letter was based on complaints the commission’s office received from the National Students’ Union of India (NSUI) and from students.

The students’ body had sought that the university not rely on artificial intelligence (AI) and proctored mode (invigilated online) of evaluation. NSUI suggested alternative methods of examination such as open book and assignment-based ones, and also demanded that it be taken into confidence while framing the policy for evaluation.

UGC education officer Latha KC confirmed to The New Indian Express that the university was asked to consider the students’ requests, and not “target them”.

“If the institute fails to implement these directions, it could invite punitive action,” the letter states.

The regional office asked the university to reconsider holding its online remote proctored end-term examinations as the move was an “unilateral policy formulated without consulting the students or taking into account the students’ best interests”.

It pointed out that students did not have access to the library after physical classes were suspended, and some teachers did not even provide proper study material. The syllabus was not also completed before the examinations, it said in the letter.

“Students had only around four weeks of classes to complete almost 70-75 per cent of the syllabus, resulting in the syllabus of many subjects remaining unfinished,” said the letter.

The proposed remote proctored examination is not a sound evaluation policy, it added about the AI’s technological limitations failing to account for practical difficulties of students, and requiring them to have uninterrupted electricity and internet connections.

Latha said that the university was yet to respond to the letter. “Although there are separate bureaus (for deemed-to-be-universities), here the complaint was by students during the pandemic, and the regional offices should respond,” she said.

Christ Vice-Chancellor Dr Fr Abraham VM told The New Indian Express that students were given a chance to write physically proctored examination if they were unable to attend the online one. “How can they (UGC regional office) ask us to adhere to the NSUI’s demand?” he said, adding that the exams started for the junior semesters on Friday, and was attended by 1,430 out of 1,450 students.

Meanwhile, the university’s student council stated that it has been kept informed and was consulted on holding the exams through the online software Mettl platform.