ALLEGING SERIOUS issues in the final answer key of the State Eligibility Test (SET) that was declared at least two months ago, a group of 10-15 aspiring professors have been doing the rounds of offices of senior officials of the Savitribai Phule Pune University since last two months. Assured by Vice-Chancellor Wasudeo Gade of a final meeting on March 30, the candidates have threatened to go on a hunger strike if their issues are not resolved. The test is mandatory for all candidates who are looking for full-time assistant professor jobs.
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The students who have met top officials of Savitribai Phule Pune University, right from vice-chancellor to heads of SET examination department, claim that despite the officials admitting to the mistakes, there is no resolution of the issue. The candidates are claiming that the answer key to at least 13 questions are erroneous.
Speaking to The Indian Express, one of the candidates, Tukaram Patil, said that the exam was conducted in May 2016 and after 40 days, the first answer key was declared. “All candidates are given a chance to challenge the answer key but we had to pay Rs 1,000 for one question. So we didn’t do that. The results were declared in the last week of December along with corrected answer key. This time, we could pay Rs 5,000 and challenge it again. Since it is a second challenge, it is supposed to be taken seriously and reviewed by experts. We kept faith in this system and challenged it but to our disappointment, the result that was declared showed no change in answer key. Hence, we are demanding a review of this process by experts,” he said.
According to the candidates, a host of issues are there in the answer key. For example, the SET question paper is set in English and translated to Marathi and a bilingual paper is given to candidates. “In one of the questions, the meaning of question itself changed since one word ‘not’ was missing. The English and Marathi questions had two different answers and the rule says that English answer will be given preference, which is not fair since this is translation mistake. Similarly, there are many mistakes where some questions have no appropriate replies or two replies to one question. We had a meeting with the vice-chancellor earlier and he also agreed that our points are valid and he will look into it but we haven’t had any solution yet. Last time, when we wanted to go on a hunger strike, they convinced us against it since NAAC committee was visiting but I think now we will be forced to do it,” said Karan Ranadive, another candidate.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday evening, the candidates met V-C Wasudeo Gade and they claimed that the top official assured to appoint a steering committee and resolve their issues.
Despite repeated calls, Gade remained unavailable for comment. However, B P Kapadnis, convenor of SET exam department told The Indian Express that he was aware of the issue. “The candidates have met us and a meeting is scheduled with them to resolve these issues. I cannot discuss anything further,” he said.
Vice Chancellor Wasudeo Gade admitted that there was some ambiguity over answers to a few questions where meanings may have been lost in translation. “We had written to the University Grants Commission (UGC) about this but they quoted some rules and there is no clear resolution. Hence, on March 30 or 31, I will be holding a meeting of the steering committee where UGC representative will also be present and we will come to some solution.”