After Students Protest, Jamia Puts Online Examinations on Hold

On December 12, the administration at Jamia Millia Islamia issued a notice putting a hold on the odd-semester examinations which were going to be held in online mode from December 21.

On December 7, the university had released a list which determined whether students were eligible for the examination or not. It said that the candidate had to have the latest version of Firefox browser, a laptop or personal computer, a stable internet connection, a web camera and a smartphone to click pictures of their hand written answers.

The announcement had drawn a lot of criticism from students who stormed Twitter alleging that the university’s decision was discriminatory against students who don’t have access to internet and other digital devices.

A day later, on December 11, a few students had also gathered in front of the vice chancellor’s office to protest against the “online proctored exams” amidst huge police deployment at the university gate. The protest dispersed around 6 in the evening as no one from the administration was present to address students’ concerns. The police, however, is still present at the gate.

LiveWire had reached out to a few students to hear what they had to say about the decision.

“Before the new session, we had requested the Jamia administration to extend the semester as my course is not theory based. I am here to learn how to handle heavy equipments and not take lessons through a video call. The administration has consciously and completely looked past its underprivileged students. We are not born with silver spoons, the only gadgets that I own is my cell phone and laptop. During the lockdown when people were running hither and thither for their hometowns, I had left my laptop at my hostel in the hope that the situation will get better soon. How will I appear in my exams now?” said Salim Javed, a second-year postgraduate student who lives in Hathiya village, Mathura, Uttar Pradesh.

Students in Jammu and Kashmir were even more concerned as 4G services are still not available in most districts.

Ifreen, a journalism student of Jamia said, “I live in Anantnag. In this week alone internet was snapped for three consecutive days. We are not informed before something like this happens, what if the internet goes away during my exam. Also, the speed of the internet is too slow to keep it connected for three long hour duration of the examination. Then, converting the pictures to PDF and uploading it within 15 minutes is an unachievable task for students like us.”

Students who could not reach their hometowns during the pandemic and are still stuck in Delhi and have access to 4G services also criticised the guidelines.

“I used to live in Jamia hostel where the facility of meals and internet is quite convenient, however, living in hostel is a far-fetched reality now because of the pandemic. I face network issues living in the capital of the city. I had to go to a friend’s place to upload my assignment by using his WiFi; that is how bad the network is at my room then how the students living in remote areas can have smooth connectivity,” said Mehroz, a mass communication student at Jamia.

One of the guidelines also stated that students had to appear in the examination from a separate room with no other person in it during the entire duration. Any presence of a second person recorded will lead to the cancellation of the examination.

Ishita Das from Jamia’s mass communication and research center says, “I live in a two room apartment with my mother, aunt and uncle. My mother is a teacher for which she conducts online classes every day from her room and the other room is occupied by my relatives. I suffer in attending my online classes because of this; appearing in an online exam is out of question.”

Jamia controller of examination told the Hindustan Times that the issues regarding the “unfair guidelines” has been carried to University Grants Commission (UGC) to make the exams assignments-based and if they allow then the examination can be conducted in the assignment mode.

The university is waiting for the directions from the UGC on the matter as they had informed UGC of the concerns of the students. Meanwhile, the students are asked to continue with their online classes and prepare for their exams with a relaxed mind.

Verda Subzwari is a journalism student at AJK Mass Communication and Research Center, Jamia Millia Islamia.

Featured image credit: PTI