1.6 lakh students starting their Madras University semester examinations in Personalised answer sheets

1.6 lakh students starting their Madras University semester examinations in Personalised answer sheets

No need to fill out the name, college or subject. The new personalised answer sheets were a fresh experience for almost 1.6 lakh students starting their Madras University semester examinations on Wednesday.

Unfortunately, teething troubles in the scheme left several thousand students bewildered and caused chaos in several colleges.

“I think this is a better way of conducting examinations. No confusion, no hassle…We don’t have to fill in any information, just sign our names,” said Mariam Verghese, a B.Sc Computer Science student of Alpha Arts and Science College, who wrote her English paper on the new sheets, pre-printed with her personal details.

Her experience was not shared by the 2,200 students of Sir Theagaraya College, who were all forced to use non-personalised sheets, since their college received the new sheets only late on Tuesday night. A senior college official said that when the papers did not arrive by 8 p.m., the college staff were forced to go and pick up the bundles from the university.

The university introduced the personalised and digitally encoded sheets this semester to prevent malpractice, and the practice of paper chasing. “It is a good system ensuring that each paper goes only to the student concerned,” said Guru Nanak College principal John Morais.

Several hiccups

The system, however, faced several hiccups on day one. Guru Nanak College itself received a few answer sheets belonging to students of other colleges, while a few of their students did not receive their sheets.

Mix-ups

Mix-ups between colleges affected at least five institutions, though the university has only received one complaint so far.

Since many colleges received their bundles only on Tuesday, staff stayed late to sort out which papers would be needed on which day and in which room.

“It should have been organised by serial number or major or something. Everything was just put into one box without any sorting and reached us only on the eve of the exam,” said the principal of a private college.

At a government college, two bundles were found missing, and alternative sheets were delivered at 4 a.m. on Tuesday.

“You have to realise that this is a qualitative leap,” said University Controller of Examinations S. Murugesan. “Earlier, we could pile any 10,000 answer sheets into a sack and send it out. Now it is a much more complicated and scientific process.”

After the 1.6 lakh students from 143 colleges registered themselves for the examination, 10 lakh personalised answer sheets were printed by an RBI-approved secure printer, who delivered the papers in sealed cases to the university. In the process, the papers of students who registered late may have been mixed up, Dr. Murugesan said.

He blamed many cases of late delivery on colleges. While the university shipped out papers on Saturday, many of them did not have staff ready to sign for the receipt. He claimed that several colleges, including two well-known government colleges, refused to accept the delivery and sent the lorry back since the required official was not present.

At institutions such as MGR Janaki Women’s College and DG Vaishnav College, which received the answer sheets at least two days in advance, all went smoothly, principals said. Even as his staff continued to sort out the initial problems on Wednesday evening, Dr. Murugesan promised that mistakes will be corrected next time.