Academics in Pandemic

‘Students not ready for regular classes, parents also unwilling’

The Tribune Interview: Even as several colleges have started classes, GNA University VC Dr VK Rattan is taking no risks regarding safety of wards

‘Students not ready for regular classes, parents also unwilling’

Dr VK Rattan, Vice Chancellor, GNA University, Phagwara.

As the contagion hit the academic field, most educational institutions have seen little alterations in their schedules and admission patterns this time. Vice-Chancellor of Phagwara-based GNA University, Dr VK Rattan, shares an insight into the adjustments he is planning in a tete-a-tete with Deepkamal Kaur. Excerpts from the interview:

As the state government has allowed colleges to open, do you intend to start regular classes?

No, we only have online classes. The previous offline mode of classes will be started only when the situation improves or the vaccination against Covid-19 is rolled out. Our students are coming only if they have doubts to be cleared or their teachers call them in batches for conducting practical classes.

But several colleges have begun regular classes for the PG students or final year graduates, even opening up hostels. Why is GNA University not following the pattern?

Our deans and faculty has taken the feedback from the students and their parents. The students are not yet ready to come. The parents apprehend the safety of their children in the hostels. Flights and rail services have also not resumed properly. We have our buses offering pick and drop facilities to the students from Ludhiana, Dasuya, Mukerian and nearby towns but parents do not want their children to use any such common facilities owing to safety reasons. So, we have also not insisted from our side.

Is the teaching faculty regularly coming to the campus?

We have 100-plus teaching staff. The staff from nearby towns is coming to campus almost daily and we have provided them bus service too. There is little relaxation for those coming from far-off areas.

Has Covid affected the admissions this time?

No, we are maintaining student strength of 2,500 at the campus. Our admissions have remained the same. The only change is that we have more students from nearby towns this time. Earlier, we also had many students from far-off states like Andhra Pradesh. This time there is a slight fall in their numbers.

Has the virus altered session timings? If yes, do you think you will be able to set it right in the coming months?

Yes, of course our session timings have got affected. We had some students who took admission in August in the first year and immediately started classes for them. We had to keep our admissions open till November 15. So, there is a separate plan for the late admissions. For those who joined early, our mid-semester examination is set to begin but we cannot do for others. We need to first finish their syllabus by holding extra classes and weekend classes before they can take examination. Yes, we will set the session timing provided the situation improves. There will be no long winter or summer vacations for the first year students. So, we expect that they will be able to cover up their first year by July or August.

Has the preference of students for courses changed this year?

No, the overall preference pattern of the students for various courses remains the same. The most preferred in our campus is BTech mechanical with automation. We have an expertise in this course and hence more students approach us for this, getting to know about the industrial background of the university. Our computer science and hotel management courses have also remained a top priority as was the trend earlier.

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