A number of dental colleges in Faridabad, the worst Covid affected district in Haryana, are forcing their students to come to campus to take their end-of-year exams from August 11.

The insistence comes despite a University Grants Commission notice to arrange “terminal semester or final year examinations either offline, online or in blended mode” and a Dental Council of India notice to only conduct relevant exams for the Bachelors in Dental Surgery Course “as and when the normalcy in the respective state/district is restored”.

With authorities unresponsive to widespread protests on social media, a number of students at these colleges, from states like Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, are worried about getting train or flight tickets to Haryana – and fear contracting the virus.

According to government data Haryana has conducted 15,000 Covid tests daily since mid-July, and new infections have been growing at the rate of 2.2% per day. Overall the state has recorded some 35,000 infections and 417 deaths.

Many students believe this means normalcy has still not been restored.

*Anil, a first year BDS student at the JCD Dental College in Sirsa said, “We demand cancellation of the exams and promotion of students on the basis of the previous year’s assessment. Majority of the students are not equipped to give exams online, and travelling to college for exams amidst this pandemic is simply illogical.”

The JCD Dental College is affiliated with the Pandit Bhagwat Dayal Sharma University of Health Sciences, Rohtak, as is the Manav Rachna Dental College in Faridabad, where second- and third-year students have filed an online petition to demand that their final semester exams be postponed, or that they be promoted based on previous internal assessment.

*Nikhil, a third year BDS student at the MRDC, who is currently in Bihar with nine other students from his college, said, “We just want them postpone the exams until normalcy is restored like the DCI notice said. We can give the pending exams next year. Our university is not even following the guidelines.”

“I am even scared to walk outside my locality, where 15 COVID positive cases and 3 deaths are reported, so going to Haryana for exams is out of question. My parents would never agree to this,” he added.

Nikhil pointed out another common concern among students: “I have never failed in any exams and I would never want a failed or attempted supplementary paper written in my result. The offline exam notice has put us under so much stress that we are unable to study.”

*Lungtok, a third-year dental student at the Sudha Rustagi Dental College, which also comes under the Pandit BD Sharma PGIMS, Rohtak, described the difficulties she would face in travelling to Faridabad from Ladakh where she is currently staying.

Similarly, a student residing in Kuwait also said it will not be possible for her to travel to India for exams amidst the pandemic.

The All India Medical Students Association, an independent body, has demanded in several tweets to “promote all MBBS, BDS, BAMS, BHMS, BUMS, NURSING, ALL PARAMEDICAL STUDENTS.”

While the association refused to make a statement when contacted, its national president Jitendra Singh in one of his tweets praised the Delhi government for “promoting every students of the state” and not following “UGC’s senseless decision” [to postpone exams].

At the Pandit BD Sharma PGIMS meanwhile, the Offices of the Vice Chancellor, the Dean of Academic Affairs and the Controller of Examinations refused to comment when contacted.

The MRDC, JCD and SRD colleges are among eight other dental colleges that are affiliated with the PGIMS Rohtak whose students are bearing the brunt, perhaps of the misplaced confidence of the BJP government in Haryana in declaring on-campus examinations from August 11.

*Names changed

(Cover Photo: Representational Image)