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The nation is in the midst of a 21-day lockdown and Mumbai is one of the worst affected cities of the country. With the situation looking bleak, the institute administration, on the 28th of March, took the step of declaring summer holidays of 2 months, from April 1 to May 31, and completing the remaining semester from June 1 onwards. Additionally, self-study mode summer courses for final and later year students are expected to start soon. 

The academic calendar has already been updated with no attendance policy for the whole semester. Also, the next academic year’s calendar has been crossed off from the website. While most part of the academic timeline has been rescheduled and postponed, the Ph.D. credit seminar and all kinds of projects including MTech and BTech thesis presentations have been kept unchanged. The stakeholders include many final year students who would only get a month of time to complete their thesis after the resumption of classes. This raises concerns among many students who are dependent on resources available in the institute that are inaccessible through online mediums. The lack of time and resources will mostly affect those who have projects based on experimental results as well as those who are unable to access high speed or licensed computational resources. 

In a reply to Frequently Asked Questions collected by the General Secretaries, the students have been advised to talk to their project supervisors and modify their topics as a measure to complete their projects on time. The reply to FAQs also clarified that the final evaluation of courses will be primarily based on the content covered in classroom instructions. Further, to compensate for students who might not have been able to participate due to poor internet connectivity, the online evaluation conducted during the last half month will not be considered in the grades. 

The decision raised a lot of questions and concerns among the student populace. One of them being, now that the summer vacations have been preponed, will students be able to do summer internships? Loss of a few opportunities has been acknowledged by the authorities. The PT Cell has already sent e-mails to the internship firms with an attached letter from Professor-in-Charge Viren Menezes, requesting them to not revoke any offers and allow work from home internships in the current vacation period. As of 3rd April, out of 156 companies who offered internships to third-year students, 27 companies have already agreed for Work From Home in the given period, 12 have rejected it and others are still deliberating. The team is trying to convince the companies to adapt to the new situation. 

On April 3, the honourable director Prof. Chaudhuri along with a few Department Heads, Deans, and Professor-in-Charge of the placement team had a discussion with the third-year Class Representatives (CRs) of all the departments. He cleared a few queries reported by the students while also taking suggestions. The discussion began with evaluation policies adopted by universities worldwide and implications of them being adopted in IITB. When the CRs requested for a common pan-IIT decision, the administration nullified the possibility, citing different demographics in IITs in different parts of the country. The possibility of continuing the summer interns in the month of June and shifting of placement season to accommodate internships during December were also discussed. Then few ideas were suggested by the CRs including binary grading policy for the semester, for which the authorities said that they will discuss in the senate meeting.

capture from the video conference 

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On April 1, the central Human Resource Development Minister Mr. Ramesh Pokhriyal chaired a video conference with the Directors of all IITs. A release by the Press Information Bureau said that the minister directed that the academic calendar of the institutes may be prepared so that students should not lose summer and winter internships. He further suggested that they set up task forces to ensure adequate placements and to help students deal with mental health issues. The IITB administration has said that the decision was taken keeping in mind the least disruption to the academic activities and to the graduating students. We can only hope that the efforts of the placement team and the administration minimize the negative impact of the pandemic on internships and the next year’s placements.

Recently, Dean AP sent a mail regarding the free edX course certificate being made available for up to 1000 IITB students because of the institute’s partnership with edX. Students need to fill the following form mentioning the course name they want to undertake. IITBombayX also stated in their mail that if required they can ask for more coupons from the edX team. We encourage everyone to make the most of such opportunities. Insight will soon be releasing an article with tips on ways to utilize preponed vacations. Meanwhile, everyone, stay safe and take care.