Hassle-free exams for two lakh engineering students

With the proposed appointment of two officers on special duty (OSD), Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU) hopes to better distribute the workload of the exam department, and ensure that engineering students have no cause for complaint

At least two lakh engineering students can now breathe easy and shed their anxieties over exam results, with the Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU) administration having decided to appoint special examinations officials to help out with the workload at the university’s examination department.

Examination department
Time and again, students have had to line up outside the examination department to complain about delays or errors in exam results. File pic

SPPU has a total of 11 faculties, but come exam season, it is the engineering faculty in particular that overwhelms the university administration each time. With two lakh engineering students in 115 colleges affiliated with the varsity, this faculty alone accounts for a formidable 50 per cent of the examination department’s workload, often leading to delays or errors in the exam results.

To resolve this long-running issue, the SPPU management council recently approved a proposal to appoint two officers on special duty (OSD) in the exam department, who will help tackle the engineering section’s exam needs.

“The two OSDs will work under the controller of examination (CoE) of SPPU to ensure that exams are conducted and results are declared without any issues or delays,” said Dr W N Gade, vice-chancellor of the university. In fact, the VC intends to double the number of proposed OSDs to four. “I have planned this considering the huge number of students, courses and syllabi the engineering faculty deals with,” he explained.

While the VC seems keen on the appointments, the current acting CoE, Dr V B Gaikwad — director of the Board of College and University Development (BCUD) — doesn’t see the need for additional assistance. “We had declared the engineering exam results on time last semester. I don’t see any need to appoint separate OSDs for engineering,” he said.

However, as Dr Gajanan Kharate, dean of the engineering faculty points out, it is no mean feat to look after all the issues and complaints of two lakh students. “Student strength-wise, engineering and commerce faculties top the list. In the engineering faculty, each semester has seven to eight papers, and with two lakh students appearing for every exam, the number of answer sheets goes up to nearly 14 lakh per semester. Besides theory papers, there are also online exams, term work, and practical work to be evaluated in engineering. To handle this massive workload, there should be separate trained officials. I think the OSDs will definitely help in resolving issues in this section,” Dr Kharate said.

No doubt the students will agree. Several engineering students have complained about the mismanagement of results in the past, and they could now find relief in this decision.

One such student, Ronak Shah, has been running from pillar to post for his results, as well as his cousin’s. He told mid-day, “We were both supposed to complete our BE in computers from Pune Vidyarthi Gruh College of Engineering and Technology in June 2014.

But both of us, as well as at least 15 of our classmates, got failing grades in one subject. In the answer sheet photocopies we received, it was clear that some sections in our papers had remained unchecked. But no one took note of this major lapse.”

He further alleged, “We applied for rechecking in the hope that we would pass once the examiner saw the couple of questions that had not been checked. But surprisingly, there was no change in our results. What made the situation worse for us was that the varsity declared the re-evaluated results very late — just a couple of days prior to the October exams, because of which we hardly got any time to prepare again. Since my first year, I have been witnessing unacceptable delays in the declaration of results.”

The hope is that complaints such as these will decrease once the OSDs are appointed. The new appointees certainly have their work cut out for them. The OSDs will need to have engineering backgrounds, as well as recent teaching experience to qualify for the posts.

“Their main duty will be to maintain coordination between the varsity’s exam department and the 115 engineering colleges affiliated with the university. I had already requested the VC to appoint the OSDs for a term of five years,” added Dr Kharate.

115 Total number of engineering colleges affiliated with SPPU

2 lakh Number of students pursuing engineering courses at SPPU

Need of the hour

After the former controller of examination (CoE), Sampada Joshi, stepped down from the post in April 2014, the post has remained vacant for the past seven months. Dr V B Gaikwad, director of the Board of College and University Development is currently also handling the exam department. While the varsity administration is chalking out plans to better distribute the workload of the exam department by appointing OSDs, perhaps the need of the hour is immediately appointing a full-time CoE. “The process of appointing the CoE is under way, and by the end of this month, the varsity will have its new full-time exam department head,” said W N Gade, vice-chancellor.

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