After so much of chaos and loss to the students, now Mumbai University is claiming that they have upgraded their online assessment for the upcoming winter semester examinations. The University has improvised the entire On-Screen Marking (OSM) process to prevent any kind of error. University officials declared that they have tackled the technical, physical and logistical drawbacks in the assessment managed by MeritTrac company which recently delayed the results of 477 examinations. The MU has identified the technical glitches, rectified the errors, tested the improvisations, trained the concerned personnel and increased manpower for the winter examinations. A master database has been created which includes detailed information of every student appearing for a particular examination of a particular subject of the respective course. A similar database of teachers including both examiners and moderators has also been created.
The Mumbai University faced a crisis that’s first of its kind when the future of 4.2 lakh students went on stake as they stare at losing one academic year of their life. The MU results used to be declared by mid-June every year; however, that was not the case this time with the transformation to online assessment than the traditional pen and paper way of manual checking. The University failed to declare the exam results on its promised deadline July 31, 2017 and promised a new date, however, more disturbing was not the delay but the chaos in uploading the answer sheets that has put a question mark whether the results would be declared altogether or not, or would the results be accurate or not.
During huge uproar calling for resignation of Vice Chancellor Sanjay Deshmukh, there’s one question that prompts everyone, why was this decision of Online Screen Marking taken hurriedly and applied without much planning? The decision of moving to Online Screen Marking was taken by Sanjay Deshmukh in the wake of May 2016 Cheating Scam that was solved by Bhandup Police by arresting a racket of cheats who used to source answer sheets from Mumbai University, tamper them and then replace. Due to this cheating scam, Sanjay Deshmukh took the decision to overhaul the manual system and shift answer sheets checking to digital mode. As we all know, Mr. Deshmukh is a RSS cadre and his aim was to follow Modiji’s digital India, but that flopped miserably, due to which he had to resign. Although the VC may have good intentions while introducing this transformation, but the way things have turned out, everybody went against Deshmukh, holding him accountable for the results 2017 fiasco which happened due to lack of planning.
The University was not getting an agency onboard on time; it should have stick to the traditional way of paper checking. Secondly, teachers should have been trained in detail to quicken up the process, and lastly, even after two months of chaos, Mumbai University failed to do a reality check and carried on with a bad decision, putting lakhs of students in jeopardy. Chief Minister of Maharashtra also has admitted that Mumbai University failed in properly implementing the online assessment system. This system should have been introduced in phases. Had it been done so results could have been announced in time? The system is new, the valuers are yet to get used to it, and sometimes valuers are not available. Moreover, the University took it casually and they never imagined in their remote dreams what could be the consequences if online assessment fails. It is a completely new system and the University has been unable to implement it properly. Whether it should have been introduced across or in phases will be studied. The education department has issued directives on how much of the online system should be implemented till it is properly understood. Anyways they have once again resorted to online assessment claiming that they can do better this time.
Mumbai university needs to restore its sheen, not only its online assessment system was chaotic for students, a visit to the campus shows how its existing infrastructure too seems to be neglected and is falling apart. At Kalina campus of Mumbai University, you can find several instances of falling slabs and a lack of maintenance making buildings unsafe for students to use. The toilets in open places are very unhygienic and full of filth and stink. The three-storey Jawaharlal Nehru Library, built in the seventies, at Kalina campus seems normal from outside but the building’s second floor tells another story. Dwindling slabs makes the entire floor unsafe, leaving only the ground floor for use. An auditorium in the same building has also suffered the same fate and not been used for two years.
A teachers’ training academy was inaugurated in 2015, but the building hasn’t received clearances to start functioning yet. Surprisingly, there are repairs taking place inside a building that hasn’t even been used. Another structure, meant to house the department of linguistics, resembles an abandoned building. Completed in 2011, this too lies unused. Elections to the senate of the university, a body that could have raised these issues, haven’t been held for many years.
The government blames the University administration and says steps to rectify the problems will be taken soon. And the University blames government for their lack of will to make any infrastructural changes. The University is also slow when it comes to hiring faculty, as data shows. Figures published in an internal document show that the University has 86 sanctioned posts for professors but only 35 are available at the moment, while 51 posts are vacant. It has sanctioned 279 assistant professors’ posts but only 170 have been hired. At least 109 posts are still vacant.
There are hundreds of problems with Mumbai University, but students are coping up with all inconveniences as their only motive is to receive fair education and prompt results.
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