Open Book Exam Likely for Final-Year Students at DU, Students Wary

DU said it may consider ‘Open Book Exams’ for final year students if the situation doesn’t return to normal by July.

3 min read
DU said it may consider ‘Open Book Exams’ for final year students if the situation doesn’t return to normal by July.

Final year examinations for undergraduate and postgraduate courses in the University of Delhi (DU) is likely to be conducted online through an Open Book Examination (OBE) Format in case the situation does not return to normal, the varsity said in a statement on Thursday, 14 May.

DU also said that all final year UG and PG examinations, including those for students of the School of Open Learning and the Non Collegiate Women Education Board will begin from 1 July 2020. The exams will be conducted across three sessions in a day, including on Sundays. The Open Book Format, it said, would be explored if the situation doesn’t appear to be normal by then.

While DU said that it would consider an alternative mode on examination to ensure social distancing and safety of students – OBE in this case – it did not mention whether this would be done online or offline.

However, speaking on the condition of anonymity, a top university official said that DU is planning to send the questions through online mode for students, who can then download the paper, write their responses and submit it within two hours.

“This is not exactly an online exam. The university is planning to explore an open book format where questions will be sent on devices of students and they can then download them and submit their responses within two hours.”
DU Official

Regarding exams for students of the first and second year, DU said that a decision on it would be communicated in due process.

Earlier, the UGC had issued an advisory to universities saying that they could explore options to conduct college exams online, while ensuring that everyone is able to access the internet.

However, for students of intermediate semesters (first and second year,) the UGC had given universities the option of cancelling exams and allowed them to evaluate students on the basis of internal assessment, if the situation did not get any better.

Students and Teachers Unhappy

But the university’s decision to conduct an open book exam has only drawn criticism from students. Final year student Sarvagya Kumar, who has gone back to his village near Uttar Pradesh’s Varanasi, fears that poor internet connectivity and lack of laptops and smartphones may prevent students from writing exams properly.

“I don’t have a stable internet connectivity here and a large number of students from UP and Bihar don’t have proper devices. How will they sit for exams?”
Sarvagya Kumar, Final year Student, Sri Aurobindo College

NSUI National Secretary and DU Student Lokesh Chugh, too, fears that the lack of proper internet connectivity may prevent students from submitting their answers at the last moment. He recalls problems faced by students in April, when the varsity asked students to fill online forms for exams.

“Due to server problems, several students faced difficulties in submitting the exam form online. What if the same happens this time when students attempt to submit their answer scripts online?”
Lokesh Chugh, NSUI National Secretary

Associate Professor and former DUTA President Nandita Narain said that the idea of open book exam is not fool-proof as students my resort to copying. The solution, she says, lies in providing students with a provisional degree on the basis of their performance in previous five semesters and conduct the final exam whenever the situation gets back to normal.

“But in case conducting exams isn’t possible and the pandemic gets worse, then in an extreme case scenario, the university could consider internal assessment based on evaluation of previous semesters,” she said.

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