Tribhuvan University to hold exams after festivalsAs officials commit to virus safety measures, students will have the option of sitting their exams at a centre closest to their homes.
Amid growing threat of the pandemic, the Tribhuvan University has decided to conduct examinations in the physical presence of students once the festive season is over.
The executive committee and the examination board of the country’s oldest varsity on Wednesday decided that conducting the tests in the usual format was necessary as there was no possibility of holding online examinations. The students, however, can take their examinations from the centres that are easily accessible to them.
Shiva Prasad Bhusal, the rector of the university, said they will arrange for the students to take their tests from the home districts so that they don’t have to travel to the Capital. He said a student enrolled in any college in Kathmandu can take their exams from the colleges closest to their home.
“We have at least one constituent or affiliated college in each district. The students can take their exams from there,” Bhusal told the Post. “We will maintain proper safety and there will be adequate social distancing.”
The country’s largest university has 61 constituent and over 1,100 private and community affiliated colleges.
Bhusal said as the students don’t have to travel to Kathmandu, there won’t be huge crowds as seen in the past. The university has asked all the colleges to trace their students and inform them to remain ready for the tests after Chhath which falls on November 20.
The students will be notified about the examinations through the local media as well, asking them to register for the test from the colleges nearest to them.
The Office of the Controller of Examinations will conduct the tests for the students under the annual system while the respective dean’s offices are responsible for holding the tests under the semester system.
A meeting of the executive committee and the examination board also decided to publish the examination schedule before Dashain, giving a month for the preparations. As per Wednesday's decision, the respective dean’s offices with fewer number of students can conduct the tests between Dashain and Tihar after consulting with their students.
The technical streams have the lesser number of students while student enrolment under the management, humanities and education streams is in thousands.
With around 415,000 enrolled, the Tribhuvan University has over 80 percent share of the total university students in the country. According to Bhusal, the examinations of the final year or the final semester will be held in the first phase.
The students and teachers say conducting the tests is necessary, however, only after adopting necessary precautions.
Buddhi Bahadur Thapa, chairperson of the Tribhuvan University Teachers Association, said holding examinations is necessary as there is no certainty how long the threat of the pandemic remains. He said the students are worried about their future in the lack of timely tests.
“We cannot afford to push the tests further. However, the university administration should accord students' safety the first priority,” Thapa told the Post. “There should be a proper arrangement so that students don’t get infected when they come for the tests.”
Representatives of the student unions both from the ruling and opposition parties have a similar view. They say students will lose one crucial year of their life if tests aren’t held now.
“Students are highly concerned about their examinations. They want the tests to be held at the earliest possible,” Rajib Dhungana, president of the Nepali Congress-affiliated Nepal Student Union, told the Post.
“While we welcome the decision to conduct the tests, we also demand the university administration ensure proper safety of the students.”
Student unions affiliated to several parties jointly and individually had been demanding timely examinations. Naresh Regmi, a central committee member of the All Nepal National Independent Students’ Union, affiliated to the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP), said they had suggested the government prioritise virtual tests at the time of the pandemic.
“We were told that it wasn’t possible in the lack of resources,” he told the Post. “It is good that the students can take their tests from their home district but the university should be attentive for their safety.”
Students waiting for their examinations say it would have been better had the university adopted an alternative testing modality.
“However, I am still happy that exams that had to be held in April will be held at least in November,” Ajay Khatri, 23, a bachelor’s final year student from Jaya Multiple Campus, Kathmandu, told the Post. “I hope there are a limited number of students at the examination centres unlike in normal times.”
Asked why the university administration was desperate to hold the tests at the time of the pandemic, officials said there was no reason why only the examinations should be halted while there are no restrictions in other activities.
“However, we can rethink our decisions if the situation worsens,” said Bhusal. On an average, around 1,300 Covid-19 cases are currently being reported on a daily basis. The infection numbers have gone up with the ease in public movements. Experts have warned that the situation could worsen in the days to come.