New Delhi: The University Grants Commission’s (UGC) proposal for a blended mode of education in light of the COVID-19 pandemic has kicked off a fierce debate. Over 1800 students from across the country signed a petition to protest the higher education regulatory body’s call.
Mumbai institute students have also responded to the call for the All India Forum to Save Public Education’s (AIFSPE) digital campaign. AIFSPE is a pan-India students’ group and student unions set up to highlight students’ issues during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The students have made a set of demands via the signature campaign:
- Making higher education inclusive by not adopting a blended mode of education;
- Universal vaccination for all stakeholders including students, teachers and staff in academia;
- Immediate disbursal of fellowships and extensions for completing thesis;
- Ensuring that the differential policies for board exams don’t affect students’ future;
- Inclusion of student representatives in the task forces across institutes to deliberate on academic activities and special economic help to families of students from marginalised communities.
“Right now students are unable to participate in a physical protest because of the lockdown and students being busy with online classes. This signature campaign is to mobile the student community across the country and highlight the issues they face,” student union president at Hyderabad Central University, Abhishek Nandan was quoted as saying by Hindustan Times.
The letter listing the students’ demands is addressed to President Ram Nath Kovind. “The blended policy of having 40% of student population on campus and 60% studying online will only further the digital divide among students. In a classroom, students are in the same environment and have an equal opportunity of learning. It’s not the same with online education as students from different backgrounds lack basic infrastructure,” an MA student from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, was quoted by the national daily.