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2021-22 academic session at varsities unlikely before September

The new academic session in universities across India is facing uncertainty and may get delayed by up to four months, as the second wave of covid-19 derails the examination system and reopening of campuses.

Fresh admissions and resumption of the new academic session is unlikely to happen before September, according to colleges and universities.

“The current situation and the delay in school board examinations because of covid-19 has a direct bearing on us,” said Pooran Chand Joshi, vice-chancellor of Delhi University. “When things were looking good and campuses such as ours were planning for the new academic session, the virus turned more dangerous and we are now in the grip of a massive second wave. The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and state board examinations and their results will govern our decision. The academic session for the fresh batch will definitely get delayed,” Joshi said.

At Delhi University, he and his colleagues are trying not to compromise with “merit criterions, as well as with the health of students”, Joshi said.

The second wave is impacting all higher educational institutions and the new admission and academic session will most likely be delayed by three to four months, said M.A. Sikandar, deputy dean at Maulana Azad National Urdu University in Hyderabad.

“It’s almost a repeat of last year. However, the difference is that the covid situation this year is more serious and will have a cascading impact. Some technical courses such as management may start early at this central university. However, fresh admissions because of the delay and postponement of school boards will alter the academic calendar and affect students’ learning. We are trying our best, but everything depends on how the pandemic situation pans out,” said Sikandar, a professor of management.

The surging cases of coronavirus have pushed the central and state governments to rethink about examinations ahead of the peak school and higher education entrance season. The central government-run CBSE on Wednesday cancelled the Class X board exam and deferred the Class XII exam.

At least a dozen other school boards, including the state boards of Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Punjab, Haryana, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, have either postponed or cancelled board exams.

The International Baccalaureate (IB) has also cancelled the Class XII exams for its affiliated schools in India and the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations on Friday deferred the ICSE and ISC exams.

Most of these school boards are likely to review the situation in June and take a call on exams. As school board results are unlikely to come by July end, admissions to colleges are not likely to take place before the end of August.

“Mid-September is when classes for fresh students are expected to begin across campuses,” said C. Vijay Kumar, a professor and director, international relations, Vellore Institute of Technology (VIT), a leading private university.

The VIT entrance exam for fresh admissions is linked to school board examination results, Kumar said.

“The university and the management will take a call on future action soon,” he said.

Raju Davis Perepadan, chairman of the Kerala-based Holy Grace Academy, which runs a chain of professional colleges, echoed similar sentiments.

“It’s going to be a tough year for students and education players. The situation is not looking good and the spread of the infection will hamper everyone, not just colleges and universities, but also schools, in a big way,” he said.

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