Blunder or plunder? Mumbai University earned Rs 5 crore from re-Evaluations
The shocking figure, which exposes administrative goof-ups, comes despite Mumbai university halving the per-student fee from Rs 550 to Rs 250; expenditure incurred, on the other hand, was just Rs 2crore
Can you really call it a 'mistake' if you profit from it? Mumbai University's (MU) annual goof-up in assessment of exam papers is raking in big money at the cost of students. In 2016-17 alone, the varsity generated nearly Rs 5.5 crore just from students' requests for photocopy and re-evaluation of their papers. This begs the question of why MU charges students so much for re-evaluation when in most cases, it is at fault for incorrect scores."
In fact, MU halved its charges for re-evaluation in 2016. The re-evaluation fees dropped from R550 to Rs 250, while the charges for a photocopy of the answer sheet remains Rs 50. Going by this, the university's income should have decreased proportionally. Instead, the total revenue from re-evaluation and photocopy rose to a whopping Rs 5.5 crore that year (2016-17), more than double the amount the varsity generated in 2010-11 (Rs 2.3 crore).
First-year LLB student Akash Vedak acquired details of income and expenditure on re-evaluation through RTI Act
This information was brought to light by Akash Vedak, first-year LLB student from Thane Law College, who filed a query under the Right To Information (RTI) Act. "Earlier, the varsity had denied me this information, stating they did not have data on income and expenditure on re-evaluation and photocopy. After I appealed to the information authority and complained to the Governor, the varsity was asked to provide the details, and was fined R25,000 for denying information."
Making more errors?
Vedak had filed the RTI application after hearing several of his friends talk about their ordeal with faulty assessment and the resulting struggle for re-evaluation. He began to question how much money the university was making from this. Vedak asked the university for details both, on how much it spent and earned from the entire process. Interestingly, last year, MU earned more than double of how much it spent on the entire process, giving MU a cool Rs 3.36 crore in profits.
Final-year Law student Mandar Pande had filed a police case in 2017 after re-evaluation showed he had been wrongly failed
The RTI response revealed the income and expenditure for the academic years 2010-11 to 2016-17. Year on year, the varsity's income from this process only increased, despite the drop in fees. "This clearly shows how varsity's goof-ups have increased. With lower fees, the income should have also been less than previous years, but it just keeps increasing," said Vedak.
"In most cases, the students pass after re-evaluation or it is discovered in the photocopy itself that there was some error in assessment that led to failure. Just because the varsity is unable to conduct error-free assessment, students are forced to opt for re-evaluation and photocopy," he added.
Students protest outside MU's examination department
Vedak is not the only student to stand up to the university over the money-spinning re-evaluation process. In 2017, Mandar Pande, now a final-year Law student at Rizvi college, had approached the BKC police to complain against MU for misplacing his answer sheet. Pande was shocked when his results declared he had failed one paper and was absent for another. "It took me so many months to go through the tedious re-evaluation and re-examination process, only to find out that it was the university's mistake.
"MU lost my paper in one subject and marked me absent. It was later found, and I had scored 55 in it. In the other paper, I was given only two marks. When I applied for a photocopy of the answer sheet, I realised that MU had only assessed the supplement sheet, and the main answer sheet was missing. Once again, re-evaluation showed that I had passed the exam," he recalled.
"Let alone the mental trauma and physical effort of running to and from MU's exam section every time, I had to spend on re-evaluation and photocopy. I was forced to spend on re-examination and appear for the paper again because even the photocopy was delayed," added Mandar.
Vinod Malale, PRO of Mumbai University's examination section, said, "On paper it may look like the expenditure may be less than the fees charged, but that only shows the expenditure from the exam section's fund. There is always additional expenditure that is met by the general fund. This needs to be taken into consideration too. The university is not trying to make profit. All the money is used for development of students." When asked why the income continues to increase despite a reduction in fees, Malale said, "This shows that the number of applications has increased. But, this is not because the varsity's errors have increased. It has become more convenient for students to apply for re-evaluation and photocopy, as the cost has reduced by half. More students apply for it now, for another chance to increase their marks."
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