Students Oppose Open Book Exams of Delhi University

Open Book
Image Credits: DU Updates

With repeated postponements, it remains uncertain when Delhi University (DU) will finally conduct the controversial online open-book examinations (OBE) for its final year/semester students of both undergraduate and postgraduate courses. Amid the increasing opposition from all stakeholders of the university and reprimands from the Delhi High Court, DU is preparing itself to carry out the Open Book Examination.

In a notification dated May 14, the option of holding Open Book Examination for the final year/semester students of Delhi University was first floated by Dean of Examinations Vinay Gupta. However, at that stage, OBE was just a tentative option as the university said it would hold OBE “in case the situation does not appear to be normal in view of COVID-19”.

About two weeks later on May 30, DU released detailed guidelines to conduct Open Book Exams followed by a tentative date sheet stating that the examinations would begin in July.  According to the guidelines, students would get a complete three hours – two hours for downloading and appearing for the paper and an additional one hour for uploading the answer sheets. The guidelines also mentioned that students who weren’t able to write the exams due to the lack of internet and infrastructural facilities would be allowed to sit for physical exams “as and when the present situation improves.”

But the students opposed these exams on two grounds. One of them was procedural. The students said that the decision was not taken with the consultation of statutory bodies and hence, was not valid. The second was the nature of the exam. Students and teachers said that the exams would be “discriminatory.” The Delhi University Teacher’s Association (DUTA) surveyed 50,000 students which showed that 85 percent were not in a position to appear for the Open Book Examinations.

The students said that while DU’s first and second-year students were being promoted based on previous semester scores and assignments, it would be unfair and discriminatory for final year students. Further, they also raised the concern that conducting examinations in situations when the teaching-learning process was not proper due to COVID-19, would defeat the purpose of evaluation.

Final year students believe that their mental health and statements have been treated like a joke by the university. Agitations were raised about DU’s capacity to conduct online examinations, given that it has faced repeated server crashes during admissions in previous years. The Delhi University faced an even stronger backlash from the opposition after the mock OBE exams conducted from July 4-8 resulted in many complaining of difficulty in the registration process, allotment of incorrect question papers, inadequate time given to PWD students, and inability to upload answer sheets. Doubts were raised by teachers about the potential for cheating in these exams. 

On July 6, after the intervention of the MHRD, the University Grants Commission (UGC) directed states to conduct final year examinations in online or offline mode by September end. The second postponement by the Delhi University came after the UGC notification. 

In a notification dated July 15, the university said that it would carry out the examinations from August 10 onwards and that the final date sheet would be available on their official website.

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