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Server, software glitches: Maharashtra likely to miss October 31 deadline to finish final-year exams

Apart from server and software glitches, the initial schedule of the final-year exams had been affected due to a nearly 10-day strike by members of non-teaching universities employees' associations across the state.

Written by Abha Goradia | Mumbai |
October 17, 2020 3:03:01 am
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WITH SEVERAL non-agricultural state universities forced to reschedule online exams over technical glitches, Maharashtra is set to miss its October 31 deadline to complete final-year exams for professional and non-professional courses.

Maharashtra government had approached the University Grants Commission (UGC) and sought an extension to complete the final-year exams by October 31 after the Supreme Court (SC) had said students cannot be promoted without writing exams and allowed states to delay the September-end deadline set by University Grants Commission (UGC) to complete the process.

On October 14, the Sant Gadge Baba Amravati University (SGAU) rescheduled its exams owing to technical glitches. The exams, which were supposed to begin from October 12, will now be held from October 20 to November 7. Last week, after experiencing multiple snags and an alleged cyberattack, the Mumbai University’s Institute of Distance and Open Learning (IDOL), too, rescheduled exams from October 19 onwards.

Due to the looming possibility of a cyclone, Pune University on October 15 postponed all exams that were scheduled to be held on October 17 to 19. They will now be held from October 21. Nagpur and Solapur universities, too, have had to defer exam dates following unsuccessful attempts to conduct online exams.

Inability to log in to exam sites, not being able to see questions or irrelevant questions were some of the major problems faced by students while taking exams.

When contacted, state Higher and Technical Education Minister Uday Samant said, “I will be meeting the Governor to apprise him of the fact that exams could be delayed in a bid to ensure that no students are left out. The state government will accordingly also send a proposal to the UGC, asking for its permission. I believe the UGC will accept our request in view of the weather and technical conditions that have arisen during the conduct of exams.”

Apart from server and software glitches, the initial schedule of the final-year exams had been affected due to a nearly 10-day strike by members of non-teaching universities employees’ associations across the state. The strike was later withdrawn following assurances from the state. On October 14, the state Cabinet announced the Seventh Pay Commission will be extended to all non-teaching employees of non-agricultural universities.

A recent heavy downpour and a power outage in Mumbai also played havoc on the examination process.

Recently, a video on YouTube, which claimed to offer its viewers a ‘mantra for cheating’ and ‘passing guarantee’ in the Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU) exams, also went viral on social media. Taking cognizance of the video, the director of the examination at SPPU submitted a complaint to the police on Thursday, claiming the video to be “irresponsible, illegal and misleading” and causing an insult to the university.

Responding to the array of technical glitches that have bowled over state universities, Samant said, “My earlier stand about cancelling exams altogether was rooted in the ground reality that took into consideration the innumerable things that can go wrong. Till date, many villages do not have proper (Internet) connectivity. However, the state could only cooperate after the Supreme Court announced its decision to make exams compulsory, and the vice-chancellors (of state universities) proposed MCQ (multiple-choice questionnaire) format. We will be conducting an inquiry as to why software providers from other states were given contracts when there are several vendors within Mumbai and Maharashtra.”

Meanwhile, student associations have claimed that the delay and glitches in online exams have caused mental distress among students.

“Conducting re-exam is not the solution. Strict action needs to be taken against the companies that have been given contracts,” Vaibhav Edke of Maharashtra Students Welfare Association said.

Maharashtra Students’ Union president Siddharth Ingle also pointed out the lack of coordination between public universities and their affiliated colleges, arbitrariness regarding the exam system, and lack of suitable infrastructure.

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