Principals of various city colleges have cautioned the University of Mumbai about loopholes in the newly-implemented digital exam paper delivery (DEPD) system that may lead to serious lapses during examinations. The principals have pointed out that the university has been sending question papers of different subjects to all centres even if a particular centre is conducting exam only one of the subjects.
The dean of commerce faculty,Dr Madhu Nair,has also written to university authorities on the issue. The letter suggested several
precautionary measures that the university can take,including sending password-protected question papers of relevant subjects to centres to prevent leaks.
In the wake of multiple question paper leaks,the varsity had adopted the DEPD system last year. The system involves sending question papers to colleges through web-links. The university decided to implement the same in the commerce stream from this semester.
Nair,who is also the principal of Nirmala Foundation College,said: The university sends the question papers of subjects of commerce stream in a password protected folder,which is shared only with the centre in-charge. The folder,however,contains all the different question papers,exams for which are to be conducted on that day,in that session. It means if a college is conducting exams for one paper,they have access to other question papers too. As the university is only able to track the folder,after it is opened,it can be misused, said Nair. This,he said,was possible as the difference of time between opening the e-paper folder and the time for the scheduled start of the exam is almost one-and-a-half hour. However,the chances of paper leak in this situation are slim as the there are CCTV cameras and other security measures in place, Nair explained.
Another principal of a commerce college in south Mumbai said that while the university had managed to plug paper leaks to a large extent,tweaking the software would make the new system foolproof and almost impossible to breach. This one loophole may pose a serious threat as people may learn how to misuse it. Hence,we have requested the university to rectify this at the earliest. If this one thing is rectified,I think the system will be foolproof. But one cannot stop power failure,slow internet connection and failure of photocopying machine,that may lead to confusion.
The suggested precautions include sending password-protected individual question papers to only those college where the particular exam is being conducted. According to Nair,the matter will be discussed with members of the Board of Examination (BoE) and a decision on the same can be taken.
Dr Padmaja Deshmukh,university controller of examination (CoE),said the university was making efforts to make the system foolproof. We are still supervising the system and are looking at if at all it can be tampered and how we can make it better. The suggestions of principals will be taken into consideration once it is discussed in the BoE meeting.