University re-opening at discretion of VCs | Sunday Observer

University re-opening at discretion of VCs

7 July, 2020

The Vice Chancellors of all national universities have been authorized to recommence lectures and exams for third and final year students and to decide the number of academic and non-academic staff needed at any given time, University Grants Commission (UGC) Chairman Senior Prof Sampath Amaratunga said yesterday.

Accordingly, measures have been taken to recommence the academic activities of all national universities from yesterday onwards subject to eleven safety conditions and availability of hostel facilities, Prof Amaratunga said. All national universities had been closed since March 13 due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

“But only the gates of the universities remained closed and the teaching and learning process of all universities continued via e learning platforms without any interruption.

As a result of that we were able to conduct the examinations and clinical trials of MBBS final year students by July 15 and we were also able to conduct final year examinations of other universities by July 22. This is a great achievement of country’s higher education sector,” said the UGC Chairman.

Among the 11 conditions are: Only the students of two academic years can be called to the university premises at a given time giving priority for third and fourth year students.

One room for one student at hostels is compulsory, and a one-metre distance must be maintained between students at exams, practical sessions, laboratories and libraries.

All academic activities and exams must end on time, prioritising the students of faculties whose exams are due. All academic activities preceding exams must be completed in as short a time as possible. Under no circumstances must they exceed four weeks.

Clinical trials can begin for final year MBBS students. For this, the relevant medical faculties must seek the advice of directors of relevant teaching hospitals, microbiologists, specialist doctors, and PHIs. In the same manner the clinical trials can begin for dental and ayurvedic final year students.

Students are advised to leave the university premises and return home after their exams and academic activities. Students are not allowed to stay at the premises after 7pm and no permission is granted to convene for sports and other extracurricular activities. No social gatherings will be allowed.

All Vice Chancellors are advised to pay close attention to the facilities at their hostels, and upon a proper study of how many students can be accommodated at a time, may recommence academic and exam activities. The UGC chairman further said that the circular issued by the Ministry of Health pertaining to the universities is still valid.

Higher Education Minister Dr Bandula Gunawardena, who addressed the press briefing, expressed his gratitude for the contribution made by country’s university system to face COVID-19 successfully.

The Minister further said that the government has already taken steps to increase the number of students absorbed to the State universities from next year and the Cabinet of Ministers will be informed about this within the next few weeks.