ACADEMICS IN PANDEMIC
IN Covid times, educational institutes have had to evolve systems for admissions, conduct of classes, taking exams and declaring results while ensuring that these are in the interest of the students and do not affect the academic session as well. Director of the Centre-run Dr BR Ambedkar National Institute of Technology LK Awasthi discusses various related issues with Deepkamal Kaur. Excerpts:
What is the admission scenario at NIT Jalandhar in the current Covid times?
We will be starting admissions after JEE Main result through centralised counselling. We will have to wait till then as some students have already appeared in JEE in January while others have not. Some also are still waiting to try their luck for JEE (Advanced). So in any case, nothing can be done as of date. The only good thing that has happened for them is that the HRD Minister has removed the condition of scoring minimum 75 per cent marks in Class XII.
If the entrance exam takes place in September and result is declared by the month end, the admissions will take another three weeks or so. In that case, how will you cope up with lesser time left for the semester which normally ends in December?
We will hold classes for the freshers for six days a week to complete the required credit hours in a semester. We also may continue with classes on some Sundays. We will work on the methodologies so that the semester completes at the same usual time and will not alter the existing plan..
While the HRD ministry is still to come out with fresh guidelines on conducting final year exams and declaring their results, the NIT is already through with the process. Is this not a violation of some kind?
There is no violation. The ministry insists that examination have to be held for the final year and we have already done that. We had to wind up everything for the exit classes in time as their employers were waiting for them to join and we could not hold them back. In Covid times, opportunities of getting placements cannot be missed at all.
How have the placements been for NIT students this year?
Around 75 per cent of our students got placed before Covid, through the routine placement mechanism. We got 10-15 per cent more placements done for the remaining students through online placement fairs. We are also pleased to share that 20-30 per cent of our third year students who were doing internships have already got pre-placement offers.
What is the status of the intermediate classes?
We have conducted online exams for them, which will have 30 per cent weightage. We will also take into account their performance in the assignments and the mid-semester exams that had been before Covid. We will declare their results soon and start next semester online classes. There are some students who cited internet issues during exams. We will take re-exam, which we are ready to take even through pen-paper mode for them whenever possible.
What changes are you making on the campus to run online classes?
We have 16-17 departments. We will convert one classroom of each department into a studio from where the lectures can be recorded and relayed. Through our Board of Governors, we have sought Rs 1 crore grant from the Centre to make these changes. The studios will be equipped with required softwares and will be available to all lecturers of the department turn wise to take online classes.
Another good thing that has happened recently is that we have signed an MoU with the NHAI. We will have to provide 40 UG/PG students mostly of civil engineering for internship periodically. They will pay Rs8,000 per month as stipend to all UG students and Rs14,000 to all PG students.
Are you planning any changes in the courses keeping Covid in mind?
The demand for courses in data sciences and data analytics have increased. So our students who are doing BTech in industrial production, chemical engineering and even textile engineering will have these courses as a part of their curriculum to enhance their employability and make them more IT-enabled. We are continuously evolving our systems by way of interactions internally as well as experts in the field. This month we will have an HR eConclave and a webinar on New Education Policy.
What is your personal opinion about the New Education Policy?
The New Education Policy will open doors for wider spectrum of courses. Students will get a chance to mix different disciplines and branches unlike the complete segregation system which was being followed earlier. The new policy should help develop better HR resources for our country.
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