The first day of the second semester theory exams of the Delhi University had students of two language credit courses staring at the wrong question paper,delaying the exams by nearly two hours.
Students of BA (Hons) English Language Credit paper were given the question paper for another exam,leading to delays and colleges making frantic calls to the DU examination branch.
While a section of teachers blamed the examination branch for the mix-up,the DU in an emergency press briefing on Monday evening said the mistake was at the department level. The university also announced an inquiry into the error.
Students of Sanskrit language paper were also at the receiving end of a similar mix-up.
The question papers for the exams are set by departments… The department defines all the parameters connected to the exam and hands over the question papers sealed to the examination branch of the university. The exam branch is only a facilitator and it asks the department to certify that all is well with the papers before they go to print, said Dr Dinesh Singh,DU Vice-Chancellor.
Sanskrit department had already submitted a note acknowledging the error,the English department will be contacted on the issue,officials said.
The mix-up,especially in the English language paper that is opted by majority of students (roughly 300-400 students from each college),meant long delays. While the exam was scheduled to begin at 9 am,Ramjas College principal Dr Rajendra Prasad said the replacement papers were received by fax at 11.30 am.
We gave the students full three hours to finish the exam. The process wrapped up by around 3 pm. Minor errors were found in the Hindi paper,too,which were corrected, he said.
DU officials said the Department of English had submitted wrong question paper to the exam branch,which printed and distributed the same. After the error was pointed out at the beginning of the semester exam,officials faxed handwritten copies of the correct question paper to colleges.
For every course,departments submit two to three sets of question papers,all handwritten and in separate signed envelopes,to the exam branch which picks and prints one so that secrecy is maintained. In the case of English,the envelope that was picked was labelled English Credit but contained a different question paper. The exam branch has no authority to check the contents of the question paper packets submitted. When the error was noticed we responded by faxing the contents of one of the spare sets to colleges so that the exam was not postponed and students affected, an official of the exam branch said.
Teachers said the mix-up was due to DU attempting to run two modes of exams simultaneously annual exams for second and third year UG students and semesters for the others.
It shows that the university cannot handle two modes of exam at the same time, said Sanam Khanna,a teacher with Kamala Nehru College.