We have received a few requests from parents and students alike voicing concerns over the college opting for offline exams. Firstly, as you all know, St. Xavier’s College is autonomous and hence has the freedom to choose offline exams as a format for evaluation in the current situation. University of Mumbai guidelines currently apply to affiliate colleges only and are not mandatory for autonomous colleges. On that basis, we are well within our rights to choose this method of evaluation.
Secondly, as per the notice issued on the college website on 26 February 2022, it had been intimated to students that they will have to prepare to reconcile themselves to the option of offline exams, which the college will favourably opt for if the situation around Covid norms is favourable to opening up of businesses, transport, leisure centres, and thus education centres as well. Please note that while the city of Mumbai is more or less fully open, we are still allowing a buffer time for practical examinations to be conducted online, as per the schedule displayed on the college website. We thus believe that this is sufficient notice to prepare for and appear for the offline examinations.
From 1 March 2022, the Government of Maharashtra has removed most of the restrictions related to COVID except mask and physical distancing. All primary schools have opened in full strength. These school children are not vaccinated. The SSC, HSC, CBSE examinations are happening offline. HSC examinations have already begun, and we have completed one paper in offline mode, on our very campus as well. For all students, for lectures and examinations, the court order has removed the vaccination restriction, and now it is voluntary.
To make it easier for students to transition to the offline space, hybrid lectures have been happening, and on-campus attendance has been encouraged. We still have two weeks of lectures that you may use to get used to campus life.
We understand that our outstation students may face the accommodation issue. However, they all have local guardians, as has been mentioned by them in the admission forms from when they secured admission to this college. We request you to check with the guardians at the earliest for provisions that can be made to help you arrive and stay in Mumbai for the duration of the semester. If you still have any problems, the college authorities are here to help you to the best of their ability. Our college hostel was opened in mid-February. Of course, we have minimal seats on a merit basis only. I hope you have applied for it. Only 20 applications had been received till last week. We can easily accommodate another 40 students.
Furthermore, we have contacted a few girls’ hostels around the colleges in the locality – Wilson College, Sophia College, Nirmala Niketan, Jaya Hostel, University Settlement, etc.). We have kept some seats reserved from 27 March to 15 April 2022 for our students-in-need at a reasonable cost. Some hostels are providing meal-inclusive plans too. The college canteen has been partially opened from the first week of February and will be fully functional from the coming week.
Students who need accommodation should write to the Student Council or the Principal. We will need documentation for the same (your parents’ IT returns for the last three years, any government IDs as requested, etc. – details of which will be provided.) Of course, we cannot accommodate everyone. And we encourage you to approach your relatives, local guardians or friends for this purpose. We are sure that people are willing to help each other transition to the way things were and to normalise the situation at the earliest.
For transport and commuting through the city – Indian Railways (local trains in Mumbai) have started issuing concession forms to fully vaccinated students. So these facilities can be availed by those who have taken both vaccine doses. Others may use the private transport mode such as taxis, personal cars, buses, shared taxis, carpooling services, etc. They can still get themselves vaccinated and avail the facilities.
On concerns about the difficulty of studying for a new mode of examinations, please note that education is about adaptability and new learnings. During these two years, we have issued you online examination papers. This time also, from our teachers’ end, we are keeping the paper pattern accessible enough for everyone to ensure that we do not compound the stress of the transition to normalcy. Short answers and Multiple Choice Questions will remain in order to ensure a fair distribution of marks according to the 90 minutes 50 marks pattern. (20-30 marks will be objective-style questions, and 20-30 marks will be subjective – as required by the disciplines/major of the subject you are studying.)
During offline exams, the college will follow all covid protocols. The thermal guns will be used at the gate to check your temperature & you will maintain the physical distance on the premises. Of course, this is not possible without your cooperation. We request all parents to speak to their wards and ask them to follow the rules imposed by the college and the government.
Our college is known for front-lining innovative teaching and learning. It is also known for the quality of education it delivers and the value of the degree you hold or may come to hold. We are now taking steps to move towards a more engaging method of education – knowing and acknowledging that online teaching across the globe has caused deterioration in the quality of education. Our goal with offline exams is finally this – we want to provide you with a mark sheet that will have some credibility in a competitive job market with tough interview questions, and only offline exams can bring that credibility back to the pre-Covid levels. We prefer to get this engaged version of testing and evaluation back for as many batches as possible.
If you still insist on not reporting for offline exams, you will then have to appear for ‘additional’ exams in October 2022, which will be in offline mode only and will be a 100 marks examination. The choice is yours. We prefer you not waste the first opportunity you have with the 50 marks end semester examination that is being tailored to make evaluation less stressful for you.
I am looking forward to seeing you on campus for lectures and also during offline exams. I wish you all the best in making the final month of this semester holistically fulfilling for you as college students.
Dr. Rajendra D. Shinde