Karnataka: RGUHS postpones intermediate BDS exams citing COVID-19

"Further, the scheduled examinations of all the years in MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery) will be conducted as per the notified timetable from October 13," Registrar N Ramakrishna Reddy said.

Weeks after several medical students in Karnataka demanded postponement of offline exams conducted by the Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences (RGUHS), the varsity Saturday announced that first, second, and third-year Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS) examinations would be held at another date.

“In view of the Covid-19 pandemic situation, the scheduled examinations of I, II, and III year BDS are postponed and the revised timetable will be notified for the same in due course,” Registrar (Evaluation) N Ramakrishna Reddy said in a statement. These exams were scheduled to begin on October 13. At the same time, he added that the fourth year BDS examinations will be conducted as scheduled from October 14.

However, RGUHS officials clarified that exams for MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery) students across all years will be conducted as planned. “Further, the scheduled examinations of all the years in MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery) will be conducted as per the notified timetable from October 13,” Reddy added.

While the decision has gifted some relief to dental students, MBBS students have questioned the varsity’s decision to hold their exams despite “risks attached” to the ongoing Covid-19 situation in the state. “Asking us to appear for the exams while BDS students have been considered does not make any sense. We are equally distressed and are at high risks of contracting the infection by attending exams held at hospital premises where Covid-19 patients are also being treated,” a third-year MBBS student hailing from Kerala said in Bengaluru.

“What makes MBBS students more immune to the virus over BDS students,” he questioned airing frustration over the same. Sumithra, another MBBS student added, “This decision is the government’s strategy to satisfy a section to bring down protests.”

Earlier, several leaders including Jayanagar MLA Sowmya Reddy had urged RGUHS to postpone the exams if the same could not be conducted online, citing Covid-19 statistics indicating Karnataka to be the third among states with the highest caseloads. “Based on the Covid-19 outburst in India, students are supposed to stay in their hostels for a minimum of 20 days before their examinations. At this point, the students and their parents are really worried to travel from different parts of India,” Reddy mentioned in the letter.

She added that the chance of spreading the infection would also be high as students might be sharing hostel rooms, canteens, and toilets while the return to appear for the examinations.

However, a representative of a group of students behind the online campaign ‘#NoExamsInCovid’ told indianexpress.com that the agitation will continue. “It is ironic that a varsity dealing with future medical practitioners itself cares less for their health and well-being. With no quarantine rules in place for those forced to travel from other states to Karnataka to attend the exams, this itself might put the state under distress with a heavier caseload,” the representative explained.

On the other side, Medical Education Minister K Sudhakar cited the success of the state conducting SSLC exams amid the pandemic clarifying that RGUHS exams should not be postponed. “When class 10 students can attend their exams, why can’t medical and dental students do so? We cannot afford to postpone exams again as students might end up losing a year,” he had said promising all necessary precautions will be taken to conduct the exams.

Earlier, MBBS exams were scheduled to be held from September 15 but were postponed due to the pandemic to October 13. As many as 52 medical and 38 dental colleges located across the state are affiliated to RGUHS.

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