Pitch rises for scrapping semester system in colleges

Academicians and students alike are pressing for doing away with the semester system at the college level, saying the bi-annual examination system started by University of Kashmir in 2015 has not produced desired results.

Students have often protested, hitting the streets demanding timely exams, declaration of results and completion of their degrees.

“The spirit of semester system of exams was to increase efficiency in academics but it failed to work here in Kashmir as our degrees are stretched unnecessarily,” said Sumaiya, a 5th semester student who was enrolled in the college in 2016.

Her batch was supposed to complete their degree in 2018 but they are yet to appear in their 5th and 6th semester exams.

“Our three-year course has gotten stretched to four years now, we are not sure whether it will be completed by this year or not,” Sumaiya said.

The semester system was adopted by University of Kashmir on guidelines from the University Grants Commission (UGC) and was aimed at improve quality of education.

“But it has proved costly to college students given the delay in completion of degrees and failure of authorities to hold exams on time,” said Adil Hamid, another college student.

Under the semester system, the students appear in two exams annually while earlier only one annual exam was conducted at college level.

“The semester system has added burden to students. It is not only about regular exams but the varsity has to conduct backlog exams of students’ semester wise as well. It is totally time consuming and didn’t prove fruitful for students,” another student said.

A varsity official however attributed the mess to the 2016 summer uprising and overall prevailing political situation in Kashmir playing spoilsport for the semester system as it took off.

“Semester exam was introduced in 2015 but it was yet to be settled and choice based credit system (CBCS) was introduced in 2016. Later, uprising started in mid-2016 due to which the new initiatives are yet to get streamlined,” said the official, who is dealing with the examination of college students.

The College Teachers Association (CTA) is also pitching for scrapping the existing semester exam system, saying it was not feasible keeping in view the geographical as well as the political situation in Kashmir valley.

“We are representatives of students as well. This practice should be scraped in the interest of students. I made a representation to Governor about this issue earlier and was assured that steps will be taken to review the semester system exams,” said Prof Tariq Ashai, president of CTA.

Already, Himachal Pradesh government in June 2018 scrapped semester system in under-graduate courses and reverted to annual examination system keeping view the “difficult topography and demographic variations” of the state.

“But the state administration in J&K is adamant to continue with it which costs students dearly,” Ashai said.

A top official at the University of Kashmir however said the controller examination was deputed to Himachal Pradesh to assess how the state revised the annual system of exams in the state.

“The controller is yet to submit the report but the varsity is holding deliberations over the mess in exam system going on for past years,” the official said.

Registrar of the varsity, Nisar Ahmad Mir, however said policy decisions are taken by the university council.

“I can’t take the decision to scrap the existing system of exams and re-introduce annual exams at college level. But the issue can be discussed by the academic council and final decision is taken by the University Council,” Mir said.