The online assessment project, introduced by the University of Mumbai for the first time for engineering courses, has jeopardised the results of more than 500 seventh semester engineering students.
It has now emerged that the exam house goofed up in the answer sheets of many students during the scanning process which was assigned to a Bangalore-based outsourcing firm — Mind Logicx.
All these students have been declared failed by the varsity in the seventh semester exam conducted in November-December 2013, for which the results were declared as late as March flouting Maharashtra University Act 1994 that mandates result declaration within 45 days. Many of them were toppers at their colleges and had scored 60-85% in other papers, but one.
The university is now manually clearing the mess that may further delay their results. Meanwhile, several candidates say they may lose out on job offers because of the fiasco. The goof-up was discovered recently when students applied for photocopies of their answer sheets and in turn received only supplementary sheets sans main sheet, which exposes the way answer sheets were scanned by the company officials.
"I have got a job offer from TCS but I may lose out because my result shows only 20 marks out of 100 in Data compression and encryption paper. The answer sheet which I sought from MU shows only supplementary sheets in which I have got 20 marks. Main sheet is missing," said Zarin Sayed, a seventh semester student of electronics and telecom at MS Saboo Siddik College, Byculla.
The complaints are still piling from all 65 colleges affiliated with the varsity as students are still receiving the photocopies. A principal said: "Their supplementary exam will start from May 19 and eighth semester exams are slated from May 23. If the varsity fails to sort out the mess in time, students would have to appear for both in skewed time."
According to sources, the varsity handed over the job to the company considering its record at the Karnataka Technological University. The company installed 60 scanners, each with 120 pages a minute speed. But they failed to handle the most sensitive job despite running a pilot project in the May-June 2013 exam.
While officials are evasive, professors point out that the re-evaluation and photocopy work, which was expected to improve with the online method, was delayed and substandard. "We have never seen such a poor job, which will now cost the career of hundreds of students," said a professor of a Thane college.
University officials, as usual, sought to underplay the issue and defended the firm. Padma Deshmukh, controller of exam at MU, said: "Only 150 students are affected. They would get fresh results by Saturday."
On Mind Logicx performance, Deshmukh said, "I will prepare a report about their performance when all the re-evaluation work gets over."
Registrar MA Khan dubbed the fiasco "teething problem". "Whenever we adopt a new technology, such teething problems occur," said Khan.
When told that the technology might be new for the varsity but not for the company that was projected as "experienced", Khan said: "All these issues would be removed in the next cycle."