Today we have embarked on a phased return to in-person classes for postgraduate students. The Vice-Chancellor has approved the Task Force recommendation to permit about 148 terminal semester students of the Science Schools and SN School to return to the campus for completion of laboratory/practice courses that have either been left incomplete from the last semester or have been postponed to the final semester. The list of students was as per recommendations of the respective academic units.
The Task Force, headed by Prof. Vinod Pavarala, has been carefully monitoring the current state of prevalence of Covid-19 (including the new variant) and the potential roll-out of vaccination and also following the Unlock guidelines being issued from time to time by the Government of India and the Government of Telangana. Further, taking into consideration the risk of an outbreak on campus (on the lines of IIT-Madras), our own limited facilities for quarantine/isolation of students, and UGC guidelines on hostel accommodation, the Task Force has planned for a gradual/phased return of students to the campus. We have already enabled the return to the campus of over 320 research scholars (M.Phil., and Ph.D.) across various Schools of study to enable them to carry out experimental work as well as timely submission of their theses. We have successfully completed a full semester online for the ongoing batch of Master’s students and have initiated the first semester classes also online.
In this latest phase announced today, the Task Force considered the requirements of academic units that have laboratory/practice components that need to be completed before students graduate in June 2021 and have prioritized the return of about 148 students. This is the beginning of a gradual process that we hope will continue through the next couple of months. As the situation with Covid-19 starts improving and the Government issues guidelines for further unlocking of higher education activities, the University of Hyderabad hopes to facilitate the return of most students to normal academic work.
I would like to request colleagues and students in the social sciences, economics, humanities, management, and SN School to view this as a process whereby we are compelled to prioritise the immediate needs of some students over others. It is not that we do not understand the enormous difficulties that students across disciplines are facing with online classes. We do recognise that in the Indian context, there is no satisfactory substitute to classroom teaching and that virtual classes are only a last resort. We have tried to ease some of the problems by facilitating remote access to digital library resources and putting in place a digital access grant for needy students. Elaborate teaching and evaluation guidelines have been framed to suit the current situation, training has been offered to teachers for effective online teaching, and a learning management system has been put in place. Few central universities in the country have been able to do as much to restart academic activities during this period of crisis.
For now, all theory classes, including for those who are being permitted to return to the campus for practical inputs, will continue online. While thanking the University community for its cooperation in executing our plans, I would like to urge continued patience on your part for a gradual and safe return to the campus so that we minimise the risks to the health and safety of our students, faculty members, and staff.
Prof. Appa Rao Podile