In the wake of week-long protests throughout the country that pitted universities against students demanding online exams, the Higher Education Commission (HEC) has finally had its say. Upon carefully reviewing student concerns and consulting with the Vice Chancellors of all the regions, the Commission has reached a very controversial decision indeed.
In a Twitter thread entitled “HEC Advises Universities to Conduct Exams based on their Capacity and Need for Fair Assessment”, the nation’s higher education commission basically says that it is going to leave it up to the universities whether they want to conduct exams in Distance Learning (DL) mode or physically on-campus.
Naturally, what this means is that there are some universities that will be conducting exams online, while others that will be conducting exams on-campus. If this reeks of unfairness to you, you’re not alone; most of the replies to the thread have been extremely critical, and understandably so.
“The apprehensions of students were reviewed carefully in consultation with the Vice Chancellors of all the provinces and regions, keeping in view the difficulties brought about by the pandemic and opening of universities from February 01, 2021,” the HEC says initially in the thread.
The education body then proceeds to share its Guidance on Examinations link, stating that according to the policy it has laid out, universities are to use their discretion to conduct exams, either on-campus or online.
“In this policy, HEC already allowed universities to use their discretion to conduct exams, either on-campus or online as long as the chosen mode provides a fair assessment of students’ performance,” the Commission says.
“Universities should take stock of their “exam readiness”, i.e., technological readiness, managerial capacity, and the announced policy, and choose the best possible mode of assessment,” the thread continues.
HEC adds that for the purpose of online exams, universities can either administer ‘open book exams’ or “establish an invigilation system in a supervised environment.” It also recommends the use of viva/oral examinations where necessary.
For on-campus exams, it recommends strict compliance with the COVID-19 standard operating procedures (SOPs).
“On-campus exams can be used only under strict compliance with all Covid-19 health and safety protocols. Universities may also have to organize make-up classes for two weeks in case students consider the course coverage to be deficient,” the higher education commission says.
The thread ends with a note on how HEC has been continuously monitoring the ongoing pandemic and coordinating with universities to ensure that academic disruption is as low as possible. Furthermore, it adds that its Guidance on Online Readiness and Assessments and Examinations can be found on its website.
So, there you have it. It’s up to your university now if it wants to conduct exams online or on-campus.
What do you make of this decision?