As the world fights a pandemic, IIT-NEET-CLAT aspirants in limbo

COLLEGE EDUCATION IN THE TIME OF COVID-19: PART I

Colleges have conducted the final term exams for college students online. Representational image from Pixabay

COVID-19 has had a seriously unsettling effect on all sections of people, not least on students who find themselves in an unprecedented situation caused by closure of schools and colleges, and a rather hasty, unprepared thrust on digital modes of learning.


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Figures released by UNESCO, as they assess the impact of the global coronavirus pandemic on education, say that in India alone, some 32 crore learners have been impacted in some way or the other by the closure of educational institutes, nearly 17 crore of them in secondary school or at higher levels.

Undoubtedly, the most affected and stressed are those who are in their final years of school, waiting for admission to colleges. And those who are waiting to write their final college exams or have passed the final year of undergraduate college, and are waiting to decide on the path ahead.

In the city, too, as we speak to students who have written their Class 12 Board examinations, we find them grappling with extreme uncertainty over the road ahead as key national and state level entrance examinations keep getting postponed. Some local colleges have introduced new norms and modes of admission, even if a little tentatively.

Getting into college

Submission of application forms, certificate verification, counselling and personal interviews — the various steps of the admission procedure are being conducted online for all the colleges in the city.  While a few colleges had already adopted the online route for some of this years ago, the pandemic has now compelled most to follow suit. Necessity is the mother of all inventions, after all. 

Engineering, Law and Arts and science colleges have taken their admission processes online following orders from the higher education department. The response to online admissions has been very positive, they say.

“A few courses require personal interviews of students for the selection process. While the students were physically visiting the college till last year, we are now conducting the same through Zoom or Google Meet. It is hassle free and has not affected the number of admissions,” says Dr Prince Annadurai, Dean of Student Affairs, Madras Christian College. 

However, a major cause of stress among many of these students is the postponement of key state level entrance exams. 

Here is the status of various national and state exams as they stand now.

TestStatus
NEET 2020September 13
JEE MainsSeptember 1 and 6th
JEE AdvancedSeptember 27
TANCETOver (Feb 29)
Tamil Nadu Aptitude Test in Architecture (TANATA)August
CLATOnline test (dates yet to be finalised)
NIT MCA Common Entrance Test (NIMCET)Postponed
National Aptitude Test in Architecture (NATA)August 29
All India entrance examination for B.Sc in Agriculture and allied sciences at Agriculture Universities AIEEA –Indian Council of Agricultural Research ICARPostponed
Footwear Design and Development Institute (FDDI All India Selection Test(AIST )Cancelled

Why are students stressed?

In a way, the pandemic has given additional time for the students preparing for these entrance exams. NEET and IIT exams are conducted in May every year and in a normal year, classes in all the institutions that accept these scores would have started by early July.

But the student community is perplexed this year. The uncertainty of it all and the general anxiety prevailing under the circumstances is making it difficult for many students to focus on preparations, despite all the time that they have now.

“The guidelines by the ministry to ensure social distancing in examination centres are promising. But as the COVID curve shows few signs of flattening and the risk of infection is high, the question of safety bothers me,” says Saathvika, who is preparing for NEET. 

“When the world is fighting a pandemic, preparing for IIT exams suddenly seems to be less of a priority. My productivity has been hampered. I used to work eight hours a day on exam preparations before the pandemic, but that has gone down to less than two hours now,” says Harshitha Reddy, a student. 

The delay in the announcement of Class 12 results was also a major concern. “I felt very anxious till the exam results were announced. Now that’s been done, I hope to be able to focus more on the JEE,” added Harshitha.   

The situation in colleges

A month ago, the Ministry of Human Resource Development issued a memorandum stating that the final term examinations of all colleges should be compulsorily conducted before September end. To facilitate that, educational institutions may be allowed the necessary exemptions for the purpose of holding examinations. 

This memorandum, however, has become a cause of stress for students and college administrators in Chennai, a city that was till recently one of the COVID-19 hotspots of the country. As many colleges fall in the COVID containment zones, administrators are apprehensive of reopening the institutions. And so, many colleges have conducted the final term exams online, while a few of them are yet to take a decision on the matter.

But how effective and fair are online examinations? 

The Great Lakes Institute of Management, a prominent city-based business school, sent a mail to its students requesting them not to indulge in malpractices while writing the online exam. “It didn’t work, of course,” smirks Krishna (name changed), a final year MBA student at the institute. He got two of his friends to write his exams on his behalf. Having passed with a good score, Krishna has now completed the degree. 

Even with all the risks of malpractice and lack of fair assessment, online exams seem to be the only way now. But some institutions are still hesitant.

“It is impossible to stop students from cheating during online exams. Rather than conducting it just for the sake of it, we have cancelled the exams. Students in our university are assessed based on internal marks,” says a professor from SRM University of Science and Technology. 

“Online exams are not fully accurate, admittedly. But, even with 40 to 50% accuracy, students can be kept in the loop of learning and assessment. A lot of our students find the online exams exciting in fact,” says F R Francis Thomas, Principal of Loyola College. A month ago, Loyola College conducted the internal exams for the students online with strict protocols to minimise the chance of malpractice. 

“We were assessed based on the multiple choice questions that were conducted online with a timer. Also, the questions were different for every student. The time limit and inability to go back to the previous question to edit the answer prevented malpractice to a large extent,” says Anto Nelson, a third-year B.Sc Maths student. 


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About Laasya Shekhar 226 Articles
Laasya Shekhar is Senior Reporter at Citizen Matters Chennai. She tweets at @plaasya.

25 Comments

  1. The delay in announcement of 12 class results was also a major concern. I felt very anxious and tension till the exam results were announced.now that’s been done…so..it was a time to put a more effort on NEET exam..so please postpone the september exams as soon as possible.of course one year will be wasted if exams were not done but in this period it was not correct decision..because if exams were conducted every student may be affected by corona virus..and may even see lot of deaths also.I think youth are the strength of india ..so will you want youngster’s death…please postpone the September NEET and JEE exams by sravani, a NEET aspirant

  2. In India where more than 50 people are not allowed to gather in fear of corona how government is conducting entrances by putting the lifes of 30 lakh students and their families in danger?.if one of us get infected who will take the responsibility?. the ministers are conducting the works through online but we can’t do that..Are there no importance of us?
    #postponeJEENEET

  3. It has become really hard to focus when there is just 20 days for the exam with a looming threat; if we give exam and catch covid 19 virus, it will prove to be a threat for my family too.

  4. Ultimately young people’s wellbeing is a matter of concern,in examination halls,even with masks and social distancing.It is not wise to conduct examinations,amidst the extraordinary predicament that we face .

  5. This is really a tough time for everyone all over the world not only we in India are sufferers of this pandemic but the whole humanity has been shaken with such deadly virus , the Government should not only consider the academic year and career but also needs to look over other important issues , we live in a democratic nation and opinions of people should be considered, when the whole student community is requesting for postponement there must be a valid reason you can’t just put lives of lakhs of students and their parents in danger , and also maintaining SOP at such huge crowd is nearly impossible as we say in some state level exams , So I request the higher officials to look into this matter and save us , this is really causing mental disturbance to all
    Neet aspirant

  6. HRD and government should Really postpone Jee and Neet 2020 examinations untill the peak of this pandemic comes down.Students are stressed,the pandemic has distracted and depressed them and their families. And even there is risk to their health which can’t be denied. How will students travel more than 10 km without any tranportation and in floody areas? Concern should be taken for jee and neet students. They are our future

  7. I am survivor of covid19. And having lived through those horrors. It is pretty difficult to sit down, and study. Getting on with a normal life is pretty challenging, let alone studying for an exam like NEET.
    It took a lot. And I don’t mind. But I want to recover, be able to think and also make it safer for the people sitting beside us.

    My immunity is pretty, down the drain(non existent), right now. With 70% body infarction. Going outside is calling for suicide.
    No exam is worth it.
    The ones who have not faced, sitting in those wealthy households, don’t hold much to judge from. No matter they are rocking the supreme Court,for hours and make students face their phones in horror of updates.
    Think of it from the point of view of children who can’t be there.
    Think of it, from the view of a survivor.
    Think of it, for people who are sitting in isolation centres. They need us today. Let’s raise our hands and vouch for them.

  8. It is practically impossible to force students to give exams this year in this situation, they say those who don’t want to give exam then dont and appear for it in 2021, but is that the solution?? My mother is a single parent and she works in an isolation ward in the hospital,I pray for her safety daily and get anxious when I listen to stories of people around me dying,and then I have to go to give exams where my mother would obviously accompany me to the centre what if she gets infected? Does anybody understand the mental pressure we r going thru? There are also students who have lost their loved ones in this pandemic and you expect that they would perform well?? How?? SC verdict is justice for small group of students and majority are going crazy about it..and when that small group of students will also get infected then Where is the justice then? One way or the other govt is the cause for this anxiety and suicides that are taking place

  9. Please postpone NEET JEE exams we are going through a tough phase exam postponement is the best dessicion we can take.

  10. Life is more crucial as compared to the exams. Exams at the cost of life is a such a high pay-off.
    Students in various parts of the country in remote areas will find it difficult to have access to transport as well.
    And various parts of the country is facing flood issues.
    Let the conditions normalise please.

  11. We trust sc but I can’t take any minor risk for my family, I’ll drop this year examination too.

  12. Recently in June my self and my whole family got effected with covid 19…i know how it feels… It’s not that fare to conduct exams in this pandemic… Even if we take every precaution.. Some students attending to exam may be asymptomatic and may spread it to others who may acts as a career for whole family.. If they loose any of their family members they will suffer all their life… There are no sufficient beds and care for patients as the cases are increasing day by day .. I humbly request the authorities to postpone these exams… Loosing an academic year is better than loosing loved ones…

  13. Many ministers and our president also got covid 19 ,as VIP’s they are only not having security against covid how could we as students hope that we will not test positive after exams.#postpone neet jee

  14. ‘Where Supreme Court itself take hearings of cases online from home,orders us to go outside for taking exams and also taking the COVID-19. This is totally hypocrisy’,Nishant Chaudhary, CLAT aspirant. #postponeclat2020 #studentlifematters.

  15. Lakhs of people come to give the exam. So there may be chances of getting affected.It also harm our family and we can’t see it.. So 🙏🙏🙏POSTPONE JEE NEET

  16. Eventhough many days have alreday gone ..that it is better to postpone JEE /NEET and make 2020 as a zero academic year …

  17. Its very risky….my mother is a diabetic patient nd my sister is an asthma patient…hw can i appear the exam for the sake of my career
    #postponejeeneetclat

  18. I’m a neet aspirant effected by corona .I may not attend to exam hall there are so many students like me by corona effect so please postpone .my father expired how can I concentrate in exam .please sir my humble request

  19. Youth is the future and government should take care of us!!no. Of cases are increasing day be day but still heads want jee/neet/clat aspirants to risk our life actually not just our even our family neighbours life!! Exams can be cancelled and something else can be done!! If exams are really so important than online exams can be held!!now it depends on government nd all the heads …but #lifeofastudentmatters!!

  20. See students are future of the country so don’t take the risk of making them past. There are transport issues and many are in containment zones. Cancel or postpone September exams

  21. In Bihar,the availability of Oxygen for Covid patient is very low.Most of us are affected from flood,Unsafe transport and of course mental depression during this 4 month lockdown!We have our right to live!We are the ruler of Democracy,The Government has to postpone Neet and JEE and various!Will They sign a contract to pay for our bills and expenses?Politician run for AIIMS and Big Hospital,what about middle class?Search the condition of Bihar Government Hospital,Even corona ward is flooded with water! That’s what we are getting!#PostponeJeeandNeet

  22. Student Life is more important than eams.All are worrying about the loss of academic year. If student lives are lost, is it possible to bring them back? I request the Government to worry about the health of the students and not about the loss of academic year. Even I am very much afraid of sending my ward for writing NEET exam on September 13 2020

  23. #donotpostponeneetandjee if we aren’t able to wear mask and risk life for just 3 hours how are we going to risk life ,wear full kit and work for 10 hours with the actual affected people… let’s not compare ourselves with America and countries…we belong to developing country where life should continue.. please let this happen and trust the government..

Comments are closed.