A group of students and teachers from various universities in the state capital on Tuesday voiced their concerns about online courses being held, fee increases and the lack of infrastructure support in universities amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Delhi University conducts online open book exams for final semester undergraduate and undergraduate students. The move was rejected by students and teachers who demanded that the exams be canceled. As of August 10, the university has also started online courses for third and fifth semester students.
During an online briefing, Abha Dev Habib, professor at Delhi University, said teachers and students have been banned from the decision-making process for online courses.
“The decision to take online open book exams was made without thinking about students. What will happen to students in Kashmir and those who are in floods? Students do not have devices for online courses. “The decision was made without consulting the legal authorities – the academic and executive councils -” she claimed.
Unni Maya, a student at Lady Shri Ram College at the University of Delhi, said the university made the decision to hold online courses without thinking about the students’ mental health and wellbeing. Taking online courses means students have to spend a lot of time in front of their cell phones or laptops, which affects their health.
She called for the university to think about funding and providing equipment to students, and to publish departmental data on how many students have taken online courses.
Students and teachers at other universities have raised similar questions. Aishe Ghosh, president of Jawaharlal Nehru University student association, said the university administration is not concerned about the teaching-learning process or about students in Kashmir who still do not have access to a proper internet connection, or students or flood-hit students , the COVID- 19. “The students are being pressured to register for the next semester at a time at which the UGC has also stated that the universities have to complete the current semester by September 30th. Registration is irrelevant. The university administration creates problems all the time, ”she said.
She also claimed that MBA and engineering students are charged lakhs rupees even though they do not have access to laboratories and have a part-time faculty.
“I would call it daylight robbery. Even the representatives of these departments have been pressured not to raise their voices, ”she said.
She also urged the university to ensure the gradual return of students to campus by following appropriate medical protocols and establishing quarantine centers within the premises.
Votes have also been raised by the Delhi government-run Ambedkar University against online courses and how the administration and even the state government have not heard their pleadings.
Shubhojeet Dey of Ambedkar University said she conducted a survey of students and found that 48 percent of students had access to smartphones while two percent had no access to devices to access online courses. Only 50 percent of students have access to laptops, he said, adding that 62 percent of them have been without laptops for more than three hours because the laptop is also used by their siblings who are either studying or working.
“It was found that 73 percent of students do not have a stable internet connection and 98 percent of female students should also do housework. We even went to the authorities and even the Delhi government with our problems, but there was no solution, ”he added.
The students had boycotted the orientation class that was held to introduce students to the courses.
Listed the students’ requirements, Dey said they wanted classes to be postponed for a month and laptops to be sourced for students from disadvantaged backgrounds and data packets made available to all students.