Nashik: The Maharashtra University of Health Sciences (MUHS) has deferred most of its exams for undergraduate courses (UG) till further notice. “Summer-2020 undergraduate examinations of Medical, Dentistry, Ayurved, Unani, Homeopathy, Nursing and other faculties have been postponed,” controller of examinations Dr Ajit Pathak said in a statement.
State medical education minister Amit Deshmukh told the Hindustan Times that the exams should not be held putting at risk the lives of students. He also directed MUHS to start the academic year of the first three years.
Students, however, want the university to cancel all the exams considering the health risks involved in appearing in exams – even if they are held at a later stage.
According to an MBBS student, the university had issued a circular a couple of weeks back asking students to write their final exams either in their own college or any other college (affiliated to the state medical university) close to their house. The notice, however, was not received well among the student fraternity.
Medical student welfare association president Dr Nilesh Jadhav told the Indian Express, “We have been asking for cancellation of exams since May. In case exams are held, how will students travel? Even if they are allowed to appear from a nearby centre, the centres are in districts, far from villages and talukas.”
Similarly, a first-year MBBS student, on the condition of anonymity, spoke about the dangers of writing exams in a state like Maharashtra and says that the decision to postpone the exam hasn’t alleviated their fears.
“Maharashtra has the highest number of coronavirus cases in the country and all the medical colleges of the state university are located next to hospitals, which naturally are high-risk zones. How can the university think about conducting exams in such a situation?” he said.
In addition, online classes that were being conducted over the past couple of months, have not been up to mark as practical knowledge is more essential in medical courses than theory, students say.
“We are supposed to be tested on the basis of lab sessions which have not been conducted since the lockdown was announced. The exams, therefore, will only be based on theory which essentially doesn’t even cover half of what is required,” the student added.
A lot of students also spoke about leaving their study materials in their hostels in March when they were asked to go back home. The hostel rooms are now turned into quarantine centres and therefore no students are allowed inside.
The offline exam, therefore, is not going to serve any purpose besides putting the lives and health of students at risk, students say.
‘COVID suraksha kawach‘
According to the Indian Express, the MUHS recently announced a “COVID suraksha kavach“ for all the students appearing in the exams. If a student contracts COVID-19, the college will provide Rs 1 lakh for the treatment and Rs 3 lakh in case a student succumbs to the virus.
As soon as the message was circulated, both students and parents opposed the decision.
Maharashtra students union president Siddharth Ingle told the Indian Express, “Who will take responsibility if any student succumbs to COVID-19? We cannot compare anyone’s lives with money.”
In the same vein, some medical colleges in MUHS had reportedly started collecting undertaking from students saying that the college won’t be responsible if students get infected of the virus while writing their exams, which then were scheduled to take place in August.
The issue of whether final year exams should be conducted in the middle of a pandemic is a subjudice matter for now and the Bombay high court is yet to announce the future course of action.