Sufferings of Delhi University students under the new semester system don’t seem to end. Recently, the varsity refused 32 students a ‘special chance’ to give their exams and get a graduation degree.
The University provides that a student can take his/her graduation exams in a total period of six years, failing which the scheme of ‘special chance’ accords him/her another attempt to give their exam - in the event of illness, death in the family or any other unavoidable circumstance.
The reason cited for removal of the scheme by VC Dinesh Singh is that ‘the examination branch is already overworked due to the semester system.’
Teachers at the varsity, however, say that ‘Special chance’ is not the only provision lost to students. Other ‘fringe benefits’ like re-evaluation of exam sheets, migration from School of Open Learning (SOL) to full-time graduation or shifting from an Honours course to BAprogramme, have also been taken away.
Professor Tapan Biswal, who teaches Political Science in SOL, says, “Our institution provides part-time education to nothing less 3.5 lakh students annually. These are, generally, from the most disadvantaged sections – financially weak, doing a job alongside, from outside Delhi and not familiar with the city, got less marks in school but want to finish college etc..”
“What keeps their hopes of a graduation alive is the chance to migrate to DU if they get good marks. At least, 10 per cent of students apply for migration every year. Now, with the introduction of semesters in DU, those hopes are dashed. The syllabus is different and our results come much later forcing our students with no option but to stay put.”
Rudrashish Chakraborty, professor of English in Kirori Mal College, adds, “All our apprehensions regarding the semester system have proved to be true and essential rights of students, enshrined in DU’s constitution, are being taken away to run this system.
“It happens often that a student takes up a subject like Physics Hons or BCom Hons and realises that he or she is unable to cope with it. So instead of wasting a year, they take up BSc Prog or BCom Prog in the IInd year. Now this provision has been abolished through a notification brought out by the VC.” Through another such notification, re-evaluation of exam papers has also been done away with.
Professor Amitava Chakraborty says, “Recently, the charge for re-evaluation of papers was raised from Rs 100 to 1000. Now, this provision has been completely removed so that the overworked exam branch doesn’t have to go over the same papers again. This is really depriving the students of a legitimate grievance-redressal mechanism.”
As for the students seeking a Special Chance to give their exams again, they are waiting for someone to take pity on them. Adhikesavan C., who needs to give only one paper to complete his LLB, says, “I had to leave my course as my father passed away. Then there is a girl who was married off during graduation, and is expecting a child now, but wants to finish her course. Atleast two others were suffering from cancer. We are only asking to be allowed to give exams, not even attend classes.
I hope they understand our genuine problems.” But with the VC pushing for reforms, irrespective of the students’ plight, a chance at understanding seems a lost cause.