Coronavirus pandemic: Technology students seek exam fee rollback

Officials said around 70 per cent of the final-semester students have paid Rs 1,200 each as examination fee.

Final-semester students of the state technology university have appealed for a rollback of the examination fees on the ground that the authorities have scrapped the exams this year because of the Covid-19 pandemic, officials of the university said.

The Maulana Abul Kalam Azad University of Technology (MAKAUT), to which all private engineering and management colleges are affiliated, has formed a committee to consider the appeal.

Officials said around 70 per cent of the final-semester students have paid Rs 1,200 each as examination fee.

This year the university will assess its 40,000-odd graduating students on the basis of internal assessment, assignment evaluation and attendance, in keeping with a government advisory issued as part of “alternative evaluation scheme due to COVID-19 pandemic situation”.

An official said many students had jointly written to the university, seeking a waiver of the exam fee. They have also conveyed their request to the higher education department.

A fourth-year student of civil engineering said the university had on June 30 announced that the students would be assessed based on continuous assessment (internal assessment) and assignment-based evaluation following the government’s advisory.

“In that case, the university must refund the examination fee. Our families are facing hardships because of Covid-19 and saving every penny matters now,” said the student.

A student of information technology asked: “Why should the university charge us for an exercise it would not undertake?”

A notice issued by MAUKAT registrar Partha Pratim Lahiri on Saturday says: “University is in receipt of a few requests on rolling back of the examination

fee. The examination fee being collected presently is for taking up the ongoing semester evaluation process, publication of results and issue of certificates…. The competent authority has appointed a committee to look into the matter in best possible ways.”

A MAUKAT official said collecting marks of the internal semesters and the home-based assessments would involve a certain cost. “We have to digitally scan the scripts of the home-based assignments and then send them to the examiners. They will put the marks and send them to the controller of examinations online,” he said.

“Assuming that the students would write the test online, we had bought high-end oftware and stocked additional servers, incurring huge expenses.”

The clamour for not paying the fees the guardians feel irrelevant in the current situation is coming from guardians of students of private schools as well. Several guardians had written to chief minister Mamata Banerjee last month that the schools are charging them for services like computer training, library even as the students are not availing of the facilities during the coronavirus enforced closure.

“Till the advisory came, we were certain that the tests would have to be held online,” he said.

Referring to the effort to hold the test online registrar Lahiri has written: “Here it may be brought to notice that for taking up the evaluation process many actions were so far taken like induction of many new techniques: offline to CBT (computer based test), CBT to online”.

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