Hyderabad’s St. Francis college goes ahead with offline exams amid students’ protests

Hyderabad: Amid rising concerns of the new strain of COVID-19 present in the state, the management of Begumpet’s St. Francis College for Women turned deaf to students’ appeal of canceling the ongoing offline exams to conduct them online.

On Monday, almost 60 per cent of the students and their parents, along with the student activists gathered at the campus and demanded that the exams which are scheduled to be conducted offline should be taken online, in view of the ongoing pandemic.

“There is nothing to do now. We need to go to college, sit for the exam and risk our lives,” laments a final-year student. Because she is in her final year, she does not want to risk her grades, by sitting for supplementary exams which are to be conducted later. “No amount of pressure worked, so there is no hope left,” she added.

National Student Union of India, Telangana president, Venkat Balmoor, said, “As per the guidelines from the University Grants Commission the colleges cannot take exams whenever they want and they should have at least informed the students two weeks earlier, how will the students stranded in other states manage.”

“I had to travel back to Hyderabad, look for a hostel, arrange for food, get a test done, risk going out to get stuff for me and also, study for exams while battling the mental pressure of suddenly being away from my family for the first time in a year,” writes Christeena Joy, adding that the college management is showing no empathy.

The situation calmed only when the police intervened, but the management remained stern on their decision of conducting exams offline.

The management said that the Academic Council had permitted online exams only ones which were held in November. As quoted by The Times of India the management said, “In November, the Academic Council had permitted us to conduct exams in online mode keeping in mind the pandemic and on the condition that this will be ‘one-time permission only’. Hence the demand for online exams by our students cannot be accommodated.

Furthermore, the management has permitted those students who are unwell or are stuck in other states are permitted to write their exam later, However, when and how has not to be answered yet.

Standing up for their right isn’t new for students of St. Francis. Last year, at least a thousand students had gathered in front of the college in protest of the management’s ‘compulsory Kurti’ rule. “I am really proud of what my juniors are doing. These are difficult times and the management has been entirely non-co-operative. I hope the management understands the plight of the students and the risks involved in making them take an exam, especially when there is a scare of a new strain in the state,” said Radhika, an alumnus of the college.