Less than a week before exams are scheduled to commence, several students belonging to second and third-year medical, dental and para-medical courses have approached the state health education minister requesting that their exams be held online. The May circular of the Maharashtra University of Health Sciences (MUHS) had clarified that pending winter session exams will be conducted in the offline mode between June 10 and 30.
“These exams have been postponed three times already, as it was not feasible to hold an offline exam for thousands of students at the time when the state is grappling with a pandemic. The situation is now worse with new Covid variants and emerging cases of black fungus. How is the state planning to conduct physical exams?” asked a student requesting anonymity. He added that students have repeatedly highlighted the need for these exams to be conducted in online mode, but the authorities have paid no heed.
Usually scheduled to take place in the month of December-January, the second and third-year MBBS, BDS, and other para-medical and certificate course exams were postponed three times this year due to rising Covid-19 cases recorded across the state. From January this year, to February the exams were then scheduled to take place in April. However, due to the second wave of Covid-19 gripping the nation, these exams were once again postponed to the first week of June by the state government.
“To appear for exams in the offline mode, we (students) will all have to travel to our college, then share hostel rooms with at least three other students and share bathrooms as well. What guarantee does the state or university give us that we will not contract the virus?” asked another student. Many have taken to Twitter to share their woes and reach out to more authorities for help.
Last week, several student organisations wrote to officials in MUHS as well as the state government highlighting the plight of fellow students. While thousands of students are still in quarantine after getting infected, many have also lost close family members and are traumatised, said the letter. Conducting exams in the offline mode in such times could make the situation worse, students have said.
Officials from MUHS, however, have assured maximum safety measures in place for the upcoming exams.
In a previous circular, the National Medical Commission (NMC) had clarified that in case students are unable to appear for their MBBS exams due to their health status or travel restrictions, such students will be given the chance to appear for these papers at a later date by the examination authority.