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Savitribai Phule Pune University seeks external vendor for upcoming online MCQ exams, says it’s ‘borrowing software’

Among the scope of works for the vendor as specified by SEF are providing online exam service, proctoring, question paper authoring and results.

Written by Alifiya Khan | Pune |
March 20, 2021 2:42:01 am
SSPU MCQ examsTwo weeks after announcing that the SPPU Edutech Foundation (SEF), an internal company of Savitribai Phule Pune University, will conduct the upcoming online MCQ examinations (File Photo)

Two weeks after announcing that the SPPU Edutech Foundation (SEF), an internal company of Savitribai Phule Pune University, will conduct the upcoming online MCQ examinations, a circular issued by SEF on Friday seeking external vendors who can provide the software, among a host of other services, has students worried.

Among the scope of works for the vendor as specified by SEF are providing online exam service, proctoring, question paper authoring and results. However, the university administration denied that the buck was being passed to an outsider, calling it a simple case of “borrowing software”. The SEF said it will handle ‘front-end UI-based’ function only.

Vice-chancellor Dr Nitin Karmalkar said, “Actually, we have an in-house software called Moodle, same as used in the IITs to conduct online examinations, but unfortunately some work needs to be done on it. It could be fully ready by the next semester exams but just to ensure there is no further delay, we are looking for technical support in the form of online software. We will have the entire control, the external agency will just provide the cloud-based software,” he said.
There has been considerable delay and discussion over the conduct of online MCQ-based October-November 2020 semester examinations, which are now starting from April 11. While six months ago, a vendor was appointed by SPPU who conducted last year’s online examinations for final year examinations, the process was riddled with glitches and complaints. Under severe criticism for the same, senior academicians and Senate members questioned why the university wasn’t directing its own Section 8 company, SEF, to conduct the exams.

The examination department has released the dates for the mock exams starting from April 7 followed by actual exams by April 11, but students are worried whether exams will take place as per schedule.

The SEF’s request for the proposal of providing proctored online exam service in SaaS model defines the scope of the work of the external vendor for providing an online exam service/platform, AI-enabled image-based proctored mode of examinations, question paper authoring, results including one click download of results, showing absentee records and more.

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Senate member Santosh Dhore questioned the need to appoint yet another external vendor. “We were assured that SEF is capable of doing the job by themselves and if technical support is needed, why look for one more person? There was the old vendor, why are they wasting time in all these processes?” he said.

Vaibhav Edke, representative of Maharashtra Student Welfare Association, said, “What is the point of giving the work to SEF when it is outsourcing the job? The university administration should ensure that at the end of the day, students should not suffer anymore delays in examinations.”

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