Vadodara’s Maharaja Sayajirao University authorities found some answer sheets of students of first-year Bachelor of Arts, missing from the lot that went for evaluation. On May 8, peons posted in the Central Assessment Cell of the university headquarter where the answer sheets are kept locked, were caught red-handed stealing the answer sheets of students who had just finished writing the semester 1 and 2 examinations of the Faculty of Arts. They were to replace them within an hour after the examinee students filled in the answers.
The exams were held between April 1 and April 20 and assessments were on, when the discrepancies were observed in the tally of answer sheets, by the evaluators.
Who are the students?
So far 36 students’ answer sheets were found missing. Most of the students are hostelites who reportedly paid Rs 900 per answer sheet to the staff, who helped smuggle them out of the central assessment cell. The papers smuggled ranged from subjects, including economics, archaeology, history, English, foreign languages, political science and sociology.
The identity of the students has not yet been revealed, however, the university has decided to withhold their results, which are due to be announced this week. The peons caught have been suspended and were under police detention for a day. The university, established in 1949, is the only residential, unitary university with English as its medium, in Gujarat, and attracts a huge number of foreign students especially from Africa, US, East and South East Asia, Middle East and Indian Subcontinent. MSU also has a 10 per cent quota for foreign students. And has among its alum Nobel Laureate Dr. Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, Shri Aurobindo, Bharat Ratna Acharya Vinoba Bhave, RBI governor Dr. I. G. Patel, and world-renowned artist Prof. K. G. Subramanyan.
What is the usual security procedure for answer sheets?
The answer sheets are locked inside cupboards at the central assessment cell. And only the Coordinator of the cell has access to the keys. The cell has six co-ordinators and assistant co-ordinators and six other administrative staff who work only in the day shift (9am to 5pm or 10am to 6 pm). The co-ordinators are senior faculty members from the Faculty of Arts. The racket is suspected to have happened during office hours, which points at possible involvement of more in the hierarchy than just the peons.
Why is MS University examination racket important?
While leaking of question papers is heard of, this is the first case where students were found smuggling out answer sheets with help of staff members to fill in answers and return them, for boosting grades. Given that nearly 1500 students took the exam for the first year, it should be an ordeal to locate the suspect students’ answer sheets which only have roll numbers.
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What action has been taken by MSU?
The MSU authorities have not yet lodged an FIR. It has only created a new bureaucratic level by appointing a chief coordinator to supervise over the coordinator, all of whom are faculty members. The university gave the police names of students whose papers were smuggled out. And has decided to appoint only permanent employees at the Central Assessment Cell, having found that the peons suspected to be involved, were contractual employees.