The University Grants Commission (UGC) has asked universities, higher education institutes to take a united stand in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. The Commission has asked the universities, colleges, and institutions across India to set up COVID taskforces that will extend support to students, teachers, their families, and other stakeholders during the turbulent times.
“These challenging times demand that we remain sensitive to problems and needs of our stakeholders and extend our best possible support and help to overcome such unprecedented situation," the UGC said in an official notice. It further asked institutes to take “greater responsibility". “As heads of institutions, all of you have an even greater responsibility to work collectively in the larger interest of all of you have an even greater responsibility to work collectively in the larger interest of all concerned for their health and safety and keeping the campus safe."
The notice has come after several universities including Delhi University, Aligarh Muslim University among others have reported deaths of faculty members due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The UGC has issued advisory and guidelines for COVID appropriate behavior and standard operating procedures (SOPs) for institutes to follow. The UGC said that universities need to address challenges related to the “physical, mental health, safety, and overall well-being" of all stakeholders. As a remedial measure, Commission has asked higher education institutes to constitute a COVID task force and set up helplines. HEIs have been asked to arrange counselors, mentors for mental health, psychosocial support, and well-being of all stakeholders.
The UGC also asked HEIs to motivate everyone to engage in activities for physical and mental fitness while staying at home at the same time encourage stakeholders to get vaccinated. Universities have been asked to promote COVID appropriate behavior including sanitization, wearing masks, washing hands, maintaining social distancing, getting tested, and tracing of suspected cases and appropriate treatment among others.
UGC asked all institutes to create a team of “well-informed", trained volunteers in life skills including NCC and NSS for extending help and support. Education institutes have been asked to take suitable welfare measures for students, teachers, staff, officers, and other stakeholders. Initiatives by institutes need to reach to those at a “greater risk of being left behind" including people in emergencies and crises, and those who are differently-abled, says UGC.
“We must come forward and stad firmly united against COVID-19 pandemic with a strong sense of responsibility and collectively help the people in disress. We must stay together to overcome this crisis," UGC chief DP Singh wrote in a letter addressed to all vice-chancellors and principals.