As India’s Coronavirus tally rose to 7,93,802 on Friday, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi opposed the University Grants Commission’s  (UGC) decision to hold examinations for the final-year examinations of college and university students in the country in September and demanded that the students be passed on the basis of past academic performances.

“It is extremely unfair to conduct exams during the Covid-19 pandemic. The UGC must hear the voice of the students and academics. Exams should be cancelled and students promoted on basis of past performances,” he said.

Congress has started “Speak Up for Students’ campaign in favour of cancellation of exams in view of spurt in the cases of Coronavirus in the country.

The party said that the pandemic had exposed the digital divide in the country wherein millions of students lacked facilities like internet connections and devices to avail of online learning and sit in exams.

“Is it fair in such circumstances that students be made to sit for exams?” asked the opposition party.

The University Grants Commission wants examinations in offline mode (by pen and paper) or online by the end of September 2020 to protect the academic interests of terminal-semester and final-year students.

According to the UGC, the special examinations can be conducted whenever possible so that the students do not face any inconvenience or loss. This provision will only be applicable as a one-time measure for the academic session 2019-20.

All schools, colleges and universities were closed after India imposed a nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of the Coronavirus in the country. As a result, examinations too could not be held.

States like Maharashtra, Haryana, Punjab, Odisha, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh have cancelled all higher education exams and decided to promote students on the basis of previous performances.

Union Minister for Human Resource Development, Dr Ramesh Pokhriyal “Nishank” late on Monday had  tweeted that the UGC has revisited its earlier guidelines related to university examinations.

In view of the safety, career progression and placements of the students and their larger interests, after consulting the Union Home Ministry and Ministry of Health, he said it has been decided that “Intermediate semester students will be evaluated based on internal assessment” while “Evaluation of the terminal semester students, which was to be done through examinations in the month of July, will now be conducted by the end of September-2020”.