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Something’s wrong with how university VCs are picked. Exam delay debate is one fallout

9 6 15
27.04.2020

The debate about colleges holding timely online exams versus delaying them until after the coronavirus lockdown ends is being conducted without any historical knowledge.

It is almost a myopic debate between the University Grants Commission (UGC) and the vice chancellors (VC). At the heart of this debate are two problem areas – the traditional insistence on completing syllabus instead of pruning it and the quality of Indian VCs of late.

Also read: Indian educational institutes should break norms in Covid times, not conduct online exams

As an illustration, I recall, from my student days at Delhi University during the period 1972-73, an occasion when the university had to be shut for more than three months at a stretch due to student disturbances. Yet the university did not extend the session but managed to conduct its examinations without too much delay. My exams were over by 12 May. It was decided to prune the non-essential parts of the syllabi in wise ways.

Even the next session commenced on time. This was due to a very wise pruning of the teaching material, not an obsession with making sure every single thing in the syllabi is taught in complete detail.

The history of higher education in India is replete with innovative solutions for such issues. In addition to the instance of Delhi University, the example of the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) in 1985-86 and of the Allahabad University in 1981-82 come to the fore. Both these institutions had dealt with such a problem in creative yet simple ways.

At the Allahabad........

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