On-campus or online exams: HEC asks varsities to use their own discretion
By Tanveer Abbas
Islamabad January 27, 2021: The Higher Education Commission (HEC) has taken note of the concerns raised by students of some universities that their examinations should be conducted online.
“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,” said the regulatory body in a statement on Wednesday.
“The HEC guidance on online readiness and assessments and examinations are available on HEC website and provide the requirements and minimum standards to be observed by universities,” it said.
“In this policy, the HEC has 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. Universities should take stock of their exam readiness and that is technological readiness, managerial capacity, and the announced policy, and choose the best possible mode of assessment,” it said.
Online exams either can be used if the universities administer ‘Open Book Exams’ or establish an invigilation system in a supervised environment. In this mode, universities will also have to use Turnitin to check similarity index with web and the answers of other students. Further, viva/oral exam may be integrated in the assessment where necessary, the HEC said.
“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. Assessment of all courses requiring psychomotor skills, such as medicine, engineering, subjects involving lab/studio work must be held on campus. All students in a single course will be examined in the same mode i.e., either on-line or on-campus,” it further said.
Meanwhile, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday disposed of a petition filed against on-campus exams
Justice Babar Sattar of the IHC after hearing arguments of the petitioner’s lawyers asked the lawyers to approach the HEC to have their grievance redressed.
The judge observed that the matter was relevant to the HEC and that the court could not do anything about it.
Since March 2020, the HEC has been continuously monitoring the pandemic situation and coordinated with the universities to minimize academic disruption and continue online education with quality safeguards.