NLSIU Bangalore has opted for students to sit in their final exams entirely online in six- to eight-hour exam tenure whereas institutions like Nalsar Hyderabad and NUJS Kolkata have opted not to hold online exams this semester in light of potential difficulties faced by students.
NUJS students would be granted provisional promotions, where 50% weightage to students’ previous examination performance would be given with the remainder being awarded on other work completed this semester, though earlier online exams had been conducted in April.
Nalsar vice-chancellor (VC) Prof Faizan Mustafa told that as some students had raised concerns of the initially approved online exams by academic council (AC), hence a similar path like NUJS has been chosen by Nalsar.
A circular dated 27 May 2020 followed by a circular issued on 9June 2020 by the Bar Council of India (BCI), informed the VCs to conduct online exams for final-year students, while intermediate year students should be advanced on the basis of previous years’ performance.
Reasons to ponder
“For the first time in Nalsar history I invited three student reps to attend AC meeting” and decision to “scale up marks rather than have online exam” was held, because “we did not want students to have any mental stress of online exam” and “did not want elite to have an advantage over less privileged”,particularly over internet access issues, explained Mustafa.
A so-called “no detriment” policy, which meant that “for the end semester component of each subject, the higher of either the sum of midsem and project scores, or a score derived from the student’s CGPA, will be taken”, implemented Nalsar on June 10.
“If scaling up adversely affects CGPA, we will take CGPA of earlier semester so that students are not at a disadvantage. Thus our session is on track, since no resit exams are there we are starting our new session on July 1, Mustafa added.”
“We completed all our teaching as per time table and posted pen drives though no examination was going to be held,” and Mustafa quoted that he “does not see examination as the ultimate goal of education”.
The decision on a “combination of accessibility, stress and concerns from both students and teachers about holding unproctored exams caused us to follow the method for only mandatory and some elective courses (though not to seminars and visiting courses)” explained Prof.AmitaDhanda, Nalsar’s dean academic affairs.
“We have been trying to worry about what are the dictates of fairness when faced with an act of God. How to help our young students cope with uncertainty” and worrying about “how to make learning effective” during this crisis, had been the priorities during the crisis. While agreeing that tough choices had to be made, “We prefer tough choices which lean towards kindness” Further added the Dean.
TALK ABOUT THE UNPRIVELGED
Further statistics on how many students were potentially facing issues of access in the case of online exams have been asked. “The answer to the question would depend upon how you defining access.” “The people who have no or very limited access is about 50% in the post-graduate students. In the undergraduate students with no access whatsoever may be 60 odd students. But the numbers climb hugely that is more than half when you speak about effective access. Here questions of stability of connections and cost of the service come into play. NALSAR has provided for reimbursement of upgraded connections and to that extent attempted to help.”
But, According to the Nalsar academic council dean, access is not just about internet.
“I would also in the context of access want us to address questions of restricted physical spaces in many homes; questions of domestic discord and mental distress. And the emotional disconnect that online learning seems to bring,” mentioned the Dean.
“We are trying to address these at NALSAR in active conversations between students, faculty and administration for the coming semester. The evaluation process for this semester was devised in the same manner.
“For us flexibility and the need to listen to each other is the key. It is important for us to continually acknowledge that the situation far from being perfect is quite horrible for many. It is important for us to remember this at all times so that our functioning promotes solidarity and kindness.
“Any university but especially a law school needs to think so that rules are not followed for their own sake but are tweaked where necessary to achieve the purpose for which they were made.” the Dean Concluded.