ISLAMABAD: A large number of university students from across the country gathered outside the office of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) here on Wednesday demanding their full semester fee be waived.

They also wanted varsities to stop their online classes and promote students to the next semester without any examinations.

With placards in their hands, the students shouted slogans and blocked the capital's Service Road for traffic.

They said that universities were demanding a full semester fee, which was completely “unfair and immoral".

It is not easy for everyone to bear the financial burden of their academics as some do part-time jobs/home tuitions/more than one job at a time to pay off their expenses.

The online classes that the varsities conduct only include daily lectures and recordings for which students use their own resources such as WiFi and mobile internet.

The student explained that their university fee covers all the student services and facilities such as clubs and societies and campus facilities, which have not been utilised since educational institutes were closed.

Schools, universities and colleges were closed down by the government in late February as a precautionary measure against the novel coronavirus spread.

Following this, educational institutes resorted to online classes. The HEC assured the students to solve problems, being faced by some of them, regarding internet connectivity and quality of lectures in their online classes as well as subsequent examinations. In an official statement, the HEC stated that on Wednesday, a few students gathered in front of HEC Secretariat Islamabad to raise their concerns.

They were told that the HEC is in contact with the vice chancellors to resolve all such issues being faced by students.

They were, however, categorically informed that promoting students without examination was out of question.

They were told that the purpose of the whole activity is to save their semester, avoid disruption in academic calendar, and let the learning process continue. The HEC has circulated prudential guidelines on exams in order to ensure that the students' concerns are not ignored and every attempt is made to ensure quality of education.

Also, efforts are afoot to address some of the connectivity issues faced by students.

Regarding their concern for fee being charged by the universities, students were told to inform HEC about any specific issue that will be taken up with the respective university.

During a meeting with the vice chancellors just before Eid, the chairman HEC had also asked the vice chancellors to take steps to resolve the problems facing the graduating students on an urgent basis, in addition to making decisions about new admissions, thesis research and use of laboratories.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020