New Delhi: With academic year 2020-21 officially delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a government-appointed panel has recommended to the Centre that the new academic session in universities and higher educational institutes across the country can be started in September instead of the traditional mid-July slot. Also Read - UGC NET June 2020: Registration Begins at | All You Need to Know

Notably, the University Grants Commission (UGC) had constituted two committees to look into the issues of academic loss and online classes in the wake of the nationwide lockdown, announced to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Also Read - CSIR-UGC NET 2019: NTA Releases Final Answer Key, Download From

One of the panels, led by Haryana University vice-chancellor RC Kuhad, was formed to find out how to conduct exams in universities amid the lockdown and work on an alternate academic calendar. The other panel, led by Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) V-C Nageshwara Rao, was set up to suggest measures to improve online education. Also Read - UGC NET 2019: NTA Announces Result, Check on

Both the panels submitted their reports to the UGC on Friday.

While the RC Kuhad-led panel suggested that the start of the new academic session be pushed to September from mid-July, the Nageshwara Rao-headed panel said that universities can conduct online exams if they have means for the same, or wait for the lockdown to get over and then decide on holding exams in the traditional pen and paper mode.

The two reports will now be studied and, as per officials of the Ministry of Human Resources and Development (MHRD), official guidelines to this effect are likely to be announced next week. The officials further said that it is not binding on the ministry to accept all the suggestions.

Notably, educational institutes across the country have been shut since March 16 as one of the measures to contain the COVID-19 outbreak.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the nationwide lockdown on March 24, which came into effect a day later. Three weeks later, on April 14, when the lockdown was scheduled to end, he announced an extension till May 3.