Dimapur, August 7: The Students’ Council of St. Joseph University Dimapur and the Inter-Departmental Association, St Joseph University Dimapur have decided to withhold payment of examination fees and boycott online examination scheduled to be conducted for final semester students.
The SCSJU and IDA stated that despite repeated appeals to address the problems faced by the students and staff of the University with reference to the conduct of online examinations, collection of fees and payment of salaries to teaching and non-teaching staff, the University administration has failed to address the issues and provide any written statements explaining these shortcomings.
The SCSJU said the University has insisted on conducting online examinations for final semester students despite repeated request by the students. It said majority of students come from remote districts outside Dimapur and face poor internet connections and frequent power shortages and as such conducting final semester examinations through online mode would make it difficult for most students to attend the exams or write it without disruptions.
It further said despite UGC’s directive, the University has decided to conduct exams without paying any attention to the difficulties which would be faced by the students.
In a press release, SC president, Brito S Awomi said that a circular given by the Controller of Examinations, SJU states that students writing online exams should be monitored by using Google Meet and if students disconnect from the meeting for more than 30 seconds, it will “result in invalidation of the current examinations”.
The Council said students in remote areas already find it difficult to access basic internet without disruption and it will be impossible for students to be constantly connected to a video meeting and will require students to have two smartphones or laptops.
Stating that the University has provided students the option of attending a written test once the institute reopens, the Council said it is extremely discriminatory towards students from rural areas who will lose an entire academic year because of the “highhandedness of the administration.”
The Council also said the students are being charged examination fees as usual (around Rs 1400 to 2000 per student even though the end-semester examinations are conducted online.
It further said the University has also collected fees from majority of the students for the whole semester (including tuition, hostel and bus fees). Hostel and bus fees have been collected in full even though these facilities have not been availed since March 16. Now, the University, instead of offering fee waivers, has stated that students will not be allowed to appear for exams without paying the full fees, it said adding this order has been given even though the UGC and AICTE had stated that fee payment should not be made mandatory during the duration of the lockdown due to the immense financial difficulties faced by parents.
The Students’ Council and the Inter-Department Association also pointed out that, despite the payment of semester fees, the teaching and non-teaching staff have not been paid their full salary since the lockdown began. The teachers, till now, have only been paid till the month of April 2020.
The non-payment of salary is an inhuman action which has seriously affected the teachers and their family who depend on this income for their livelihood during the stressful time of this global pandemic, it further said.
The Students’ Council and the Inter-Department Association, St. Joseph University condemned the insensitive and callous attitude that the University has shown to students and teachers.
“The hypocrisy of the administration can be seen as the administration blamed poor internet connection for not responding to the letters and requests sent by students and teachers on various issues, but still expect over 1000 final year students to appear for online examinations without being disrupted for even 30 seconds,” the Council and IDA said.
The students also demanded a rebate/refund of examination, hostel and bus fees from the month of March to April of which the students did not use. They also demanded that the salary of the teaching staff should be paid in full for the whole duration of the lockdown and for the upcoming semester if further fees are to be paid by students.
(Page News Service)