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University admissions fiasco: Service provider: Got just 6 days to develop system

University registrar asks for report on issues with site; company director says the system usually takes a month to prepare and they didn’t get time for testing

As students struggled to register themselves in the first year degree course online even on the third day yesterday, questions were raised about the university’s choice of the technical service provider. The service provider, however, blamed the university for giving them only six days to develop the system.

The messages on the university’s online admission site when students tried to register
The messages on the university’s online admission site when students tried to register

According to highly placed sources at the university, only four bidders came forward in the tendering process for the online admission system, and three gave quotations. Of these, Exxon Automation Pvt Ltd offered the cheapest rate — Rs 22 per student — while MKCL quoted R35 and Hindustan Computers quoted Rs 55. “Though Exxon Automation Pvt Ltd has 10 years of experience in the education industry, it is mostly in declaring results online. Its other enrolment and admission experiences are with smaller and open universities, where the number of students is not as high as in University of Mumbai,” said the source.

Mithila Shetty, student and Preeti Manerkar, student
Mithila Shetty, student and Preeti Manerkar, student

The contract with the current service provider, Exxon, is for three years after which the software will be handed over to the university.

MA Khan, registrar of the university, said, “I have asked for a report from the company to know what the issues are. But the process improved a lot on the third day. Even MKCL (the previous service provider) faced issues in the initial two years. There is a lot of traffic on the website. We have extended the admission schedule for students’ convenience.”

Prasad Bandivadekar, director of Exxon, said, “We have over 100 education clients across the country with whom we are working in different fields — from form registration and admissions to results. The system you see now was prepared in just six days, which should ideally take a month. We had no time for testing.”

Students say
“As during the day there was no luck, I started registration on the website in the night, hoping that there will be less traffic. I started filling the form at 9 pm on Wednesday night and it was 2 am when I was finally done filling all the sections. This is because the server kept failing at intervals and I had to start over. I am still trying to upload the photo as there is still a size issue,” said Mithila Shetty, a student from Dockyard Road.

Her friend, Preeti Manerkar, faced a similar issue. “I think I have learnt to be patient after going through this harassing process. It is all about waiting once you click on ‘proceed’,” she said.

Vaishnavi Girkar, another student, said, “I sat in front of the computer for hours and finished the process of uploading the data. But now, I can’t take a print of the form as the website is not opening. Without the print, I cannot submit the form in any college.”

Extension of admission
Following the fiasco, the University of Mumbai has extended the admission schedule. Students can register for colleges till June 25. The dates of college admissions have been likewise extended. Students can refer to the university’s official website for these. By yesterday afternoon, 1,19,400 registrations were confirmed, and 2,17,440 applications were received on the website. The number of servers has been increased from 12 to 28.

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