Tulsiram Bhandari, a dynamic enthusiast with high vigor for embracing achievements, is the Controller of Examinations of Pokhara University. Pokhara University has proved its excellence in conducting online examinations successfully, which is the great achievement during the pandemic hardships. Excerpts:
Pokhara University conducted exams amid the threats of Covid-19 pandemic. Could you please share with us how it was possible?
In my view, online exam is not the alternative rather it is the strategy of a specific situation. We had a wide discussion with other universities on coping with such a pandemic and handled the situation successfully, but no one gave the positive response to the efforts we made. So, we initiated online exams, which were very effective and eye-opening for most institutions. Now, we are confident that we can conduct online exams fairly with the support of technology.
How did you ensure fair exams for such a large number of students? Was it a success as you claim most students participated in the exams?
It was our new experience of conducting virtual exams. So, we made all necessary arrangements for the successful accomplishment. We formed an exam committee in every college and managed observers as per requirement. The observers closely monitored the fair conduction of the exams, and the examinees were closely observed. We received amicable cooperation from all concerned educationists and stakeholders. However, due to some geographical anomalies and device problems, such as internet, connectivity, phones etc., a few students got deprived of taking the exams conveniently. So, I was fully satisfied with the accomplishment of the exams.
What differences did you find between physical and virtual exams in terms of their authenticity?
We were in a huge dilemma regarding the fair conduct of the exams in the primary phase, but systematic arrangements of online system boosted our morale and assurance in fair conduct of all the examinations. We are sure that the evaluation was undoubtedly fair and the result strengths of the online exams increased by 5-7 percent which was the result of well-managed strategic planning of the University. In this regard, we did not experience any anomalous differences between the physical and virtual exams.
There have been both positive and negative impacts of the pandemic on education. In the aftermath of the pandemic, some colleges have just reinstated the physical classes. What is your strategic planning for the exam assessment system in the coming days if such a pandemic breaks out again?
I have worked as a visiting professor of health science at other universities. During these times, I have had live interaction with core team of the university. I have observed that Covid-19 has brought technological transformation in the way students learn in schools, colleges, and universities. In my view, we should completely change the customary way of teaching and learning techniques and evaluation system. So, we should be prepared to handle the situation as required. Physical exams are more convenient to conduct, but if the pandemic continues to persist, we should be able to conduct virtual classes and online exams. Recently, we have conducted the examinations of master’s degree physically. However, I believe the government should make the vaccination programs more effective and accessible for all the students so that we can focus on taking physical exams by following all safety standards. If the situation is not favorable for conducting physical exams, we should not delay in conducting the exams online.
As Exam Controller, what is your strategy of maintaining the academic calendar and conducting exams to overcome unprecedented epidemics and pandemic in the future?
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the calendar of two academic years could not be accomplished perfectly. So, the Pokhara University has adopted an alternative way to maintain the calendar systematically. We have closely observed the European and international practices in the education sector as well. And we are fully aware of the existing situations which is still scary and indecisive. More importantly, we should abstain from political interferences in the education sector. Still, some external factors, such as political maelstrom, ongoing elections and some natural calamities have affected the pre-scheduled programs of the University. Needless to say, we are preparing alternative ways to control such stand-offish times and smoothen our activities based on our academic calendar.
Could you possible tell us how many students are currently studying in the institutions of Pokhara University and how many students have received graduation till date? How is the performance of those graduates in national and global job markets?
Pokhara University has three types of colleges: constituent, joint constituent and affiliated. As of today, as many as 8000 students have attained graduation. And currently, there are 40 thousand students studying in these three types of institutions. There are some specific indicators to measure the quality, prepared by the University Grant Commission in order to obtain a QAA qualification. All the colleges should fulfill all these criteria to get the QAA. And a college with a QAA qualification qualifies for receiving a grant from the UGC. So, all the colleges are upgrading their quality to receive the grant. As a result, most colleges have strived hard for escalating their educational standards and eventually they have successfully improved their status.
So, we can proudly say that there are no PU graduates without any job or employment opportunities due to quality education.
What message would you like to convey at last?
Pokhara University has been imparting world class quality education and launching career and professionalism-oriented programs with globally acclaimed curricula. The evaluation system of the University is also globally acceptable. In addition, our graduates do not have to dillydally in pursuit of jobs, for we have transferred our learned expertise to them. I, therefore, urge those hopefuls, who want to embrace an award-winning career, to join one of the programs of Pokhara University, and you will never have to live in a dilemma after your graduation.