Online University Exams Not Possible: Assam Education Minister

Assam Education Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said that online exams for university students of Assam will not be possible as a large number of students come from poor economic backgrounds

Assam Education Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Saturday said that conducting online exam for university students of Assam will not be feasible. The minister, during a press conference, said that many students are from poor economic backgrounds and lack the basic requirements of an online examination.
“It will be very difficult in Assam to conduct online examinations. There are many poor students without resources essential for an online exam,” Mr Sarma said.

The minister further said that a mixed-mode of exam– online and offline — with an option for candidates without resources to sit for an offline examination, can be helpful. The recent UGC guidelines have instructed universities to conduct final year examinations in online, offline, or blended (online and offline) mode by the end of September.

According to Mr. Sarma, online exams are possible for specific programmes like Medical, Engineering, Business Management with small numbers of students who are already familiar with the system.

“For specific courses like medical and engineering with captive students who are familiar with the system, online exams may be possible,” Mr Himanta Biswa Sarma said.

“However, BA, MA university exams can not be conducted online as these involve a large number of students,” Mr. Sarma added.

The idea of conducting final year university exams as per the UGC guidelines has not been well received in Assam.

Recently, Postgraduate Students’ Union, or PGSU, Gauhati University said that universities should be allowed to use alternative forms of evaluation in place of exams.

In a memorandum to the UGC, the students’ union said that final year exams in offline mode come with health risks, considering the rising number of COVID-19 cases in Assam. Earlier, the university was converted into a quarantine centre.

The PGSU’s argument regarding online exam is in line with the minister’s recent statement, as the memorandum said many students of the university are without smartphones and good network connections required for online examination.