Mumbai University, one of the oldest institutions of higher education in India, has been in the midst of chaos since the past few months. The university’s result which was to be declared in June was released two months late, affecting thousands of final year students.
Switching from manual grading of answer sheets to online assessment of answer sheets using the On-Screen Marking System (OMS), at the last minute, was what caused the delay.
While this decision was taken to prevent unfair grading, the university administration and affiliated colleges were put in a tough spot as they didn’t get time to change the marking system. As if getting familiar with the online marking system wasn’t enough, many teachers were made to put in more hours to grade the papers. Moreover, the admissions for the new academic year were also pushed further due to delays in exam results.
The state government had anticipated the chaos and had accordingly advised introducing the assessment system in phases. However, Vice-Chancellor Sanjay Deshmukh decided to implement it in totality, this year itself. For students of the university, this meant writing their papers in black ink to make scanning easier. They had no clue about the mayhem that was to take place.
A student of Jai Hind College, Isha explained what happened after the result was declared on August 24, 2017, after protests from students. Students had to run from pillar to post to get their actual results. She said, “Many students, including me, were marked arbitrarily absent. Colleges affiliated to Mumbai University were clueless, so every student had to go to the university and deal with their problems individually.”
Initially, 73,430 results were ‘withheld’. Some answer sheets were placed in the wrong bracket of evaluation and some were misplaced. After showing proof of writing the exam too, the arduous process of getting the final result didn’t come to an end. Another student of Jai Hind College, who doesn’t wish to be named, shared her frustration, “Even though I finally got my results, I had to send my papers for re-evaluation since my teachers and I were sure that I had scored more than the marks that I had got. Now we are hearing that the university has made re-evaluation mandatory for students who had their results withheld, even if they have scored well.”
Many students missed deadlines for admissions into post graduation courses as well. The situation was worse for those who wanted to study abroad. Pranika is one such student. “The delay resulted in a stressful month regarding locking down on my postgraduate university and visa process, which should have been completed by August. It resulted in me paying a lot more money to get things done on time, ” she said.
More than a month has passed since the result was declared and even now, answer sheets of around 1,600 students haven’t been located. The university has decided to give them ‘average marks’.
The websites of Mumbai University and affiliated colleges aren’t clear about the completion of the admission process for the 2017 academic year. The Vice-chancellor has been reportedly asked to resign, but this isn’t the first time something like this has happened. The university seems to have a habit of installing systems at the last minute, which its infrastructure cannot support.
Last year, the Centralised Admission Process (CAP), was introduced for admissions to law colleges in Mumbai. Much like what happened this year, CAP was introduced at the last minute and was arbitrarily implemented. Such was the confusion that admissions to the college finished in November. An administration member of Government Law College, Mumbai, that Campus Watch had spoken to last year had predicted that history would repeat itself if the university doesn’t change its ways and voila!
Since a similar story surfaces every year, and an RTI has revealed that the university earned ₹ 7.52 crore in fees to re-evaluate answer sheets between 2013 and 2016, students also suspect corruption.
Though the intention of switching to online assessment might be noble, implementation without the system and personnel to support it wasn’t necessary. Mumbai University should have implemented the e-assessment more systematically instead of rushing everything at the eleventh hour.
Campus Watch tried reaching out to the Mumbai University Administration but haven’t received a comment yet.