Students suffer as KU struggles to streamline semester exam system

As ‘damage control move’ varsity again decides to combine two semester-exams this year while academics call for scrapping the ‘flawed’ system

Syed Rizwan Geelani
Srinagar, Publish Date: Nov 18 2018 11:58PM | Updated Date: Nov 18 2018 11:58PM
Students suffer as KU struggles to streamline semester exam systemRepresentational pic

Repeated failures of authorities at Kashmir University (KU) to conduct exam on time is making students suffer. Faced with criticism the authorities have again decided to combine 5th and 6th semester exams for undergraduate students who were enrolled in colleges during academic year 2016-17, fearing the students might lose one precious year. The students are currently appearing in 4th semester exams. The decision to combine the two semester exams has been taken as part of “damage control exercise” to keep the semester scheme rolling in the colleges affiliated with the varsity. The decision was taken recently at a meeting convened by dean academic affairs of KU and attended by controller examination besides other officials and principals of various degree colleges. “The joint examination for the 5th and 6th semester students will tentatively start from first week of August. The exams shall be conducted on alternative days to keep at least one day of preparation for the students for each paper,” read the minutes of the meeting released by KU administration. The varsity introduced semester system of examination for under graduate courses in 2015, replacing annual examination system. This system was adopted by the varsity on guidelines of University Grants Commission (UGC) and was aimed at improving quality of education. But it has proved costly to college students as it has stretched completion of courses. The KU authorities have also written to higher education department and sought curtailment in winter vacations for the colleges. “Curtailment in winter vacation will provide sufficient teaching days for students in colleges,” read the minutes, adding authorities have decided to start classes for 5th semester students in first week of December. But the decision to curtail the winter vacation won’t be practically possible given the non-availability of heating facilities and infrastructure in colleges, an official said. Under the semester system students appear twice in exams in one year instead of earlier practice wherein only one exam was conducted annually. With the delay in completion of courses in colleges, the new academic session in the University this year was deferred to September while as in past the fresh batch would be enrolled in March or April. Amid the delay in awarding of degrees and deferment of academic session in KU the academicians press for intensive academic calendar in the university. “Semester system calls for very intensive calendar and one of the reasons why the delay is happening is that sometime the university tries to implement the new scheme through old methods,” said Prof. Tariq Ahmad Chalkoo, a noted academician. He said earlier exams were conducted over one month time and students would remain off from classes. “But in contemporary times, exam time is hardly 10 days. But the university is following the traditional idea. If they will conduct two sittings in a day it would give them a buffer of one and a half month,” he said. Professor Chalkoo said around one and a half month is lost during exam which accumulates to nine months in three years. “But there is a ray of hope now as the examination department has fixed a deadline for colleges to submit the award sheets of students within a stipulated time period,” he said. This year the classes for fresh batch of students in colleges started in April. The students should have been appearing in the second semester exams but they are yet to finish their first semester exams in the colleges. “The exams are delayed because the university is not in position to follow a particular academic calendar,” a college professor said. President College Teachers Association (CTA) Tariq Ashai said J&K government should scrap the semester system exams. “I made a representation to Governor about this issue and was assured that steps will be taken to review the semester system exams,” he said. Ashai said introduction of semester wise exams made the examination system a mess and proved costly for students. “KU has suggested curtailing winter vacations but that is not the remedy for it,” he said. Already, Himachal Pradesh government in June this year scrapped semester system in under-graduate courses and reverted to annual examination system. The education minister of Himachal government had stated that the semester scheme was not suitable for hilly state like Himachal Pradesh with difficult topography and demographic variations. “But the state administration is adamant to continue with semester system here and want to continue the mess,” Ashai said. Controller examination Kashmir University (KU) Prof. Farooq Ahmad Mir said the varsity has chalked out a strategy to streamline the exams for undergraduate students and completion of their degrees on time. “We have made several plans for 2019 which will have a good impact the next year,” he said. He said the admission notification for colleges will be issued soon after the JKBOSE will declare the class 12th results. “In 2019, the admission process for fresh batch will be completed in first week of March which was otherwise extended up to May,” he said. About conduct of exams he said most of the colleges in Kashmir don’t have adequate accommodation to facilitate conduct of exams of one semester and hold classes for students of another semester. “We have to call off classes in colleges after first half and start the exams in the second half,” he said. He however said as controller examination he had no issues to go for three sittings of exams in a day if accommodation is provided in colleges.

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