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HindustanTimes Sun,20 Apr 2014

Mumbai: Too much exam work, too few officials

Bhavya Dore , Hindustan Times  Mumbai, May 14, 2013
First Published: 16:28 IST(14/5/2013) | Last Updated: 16:32 IST(14/5/2013)

At Examination House in Kalina, which houses the office of the controller of examinations – the university’s most sensitive department – 400 temporary staff members come and go every day.

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This is because while there are 287 permanent staff positions sanctioned, only 124 are filled, according to a recent government report.

Experts say this is a shocking state of affairs, given the nature of the work involved. Last year’s series of engineering paper leaks demonstrated just how easy it is for staff to work against the system.

University officials claimed that vacancies would be filled soon. “It is going on, interviews are being held,” said pro vicechancellor Naresh Chandra.

The sheer volume of work too, is staggering. And this year, it has increased because of the credit-semester system at the masters’ level, meaning more papers have to be set and translated.

“There is far too much burden on the exam department,” said Aroon Tikekar, writer and university historian. “The university should be debarred from starting new courses because every minister and vice-chancellor wants to start something new so that he is remembered in the administration.”

Despite the increasing work load, paper setters get paid very little: Rs330 per set of three, which is possibly one reason why so many errors have proliferated in exam papers throughout this season’s exams (see graphic). Some say, those committing errors aren’t punished adequately.

“There is a very casual attitude among paper setters,” said one department head. “There is no incentive to do careful work.”

The university finds it hard to raise their salaries, since they come from the examination fee students pay, meaning the burden would have to be passed on to the students.

The main problem though, continues to be leadership. The university last week got its fourth registrar since 2011, a post that has a five-year term. Last week, the controller of exams Padma Deshmukh took charge after two temporary controllers ran affairs, before Vilas Shinde was suspended in 2011.

Last May, Naresh Chandra became pro vice-chancellor, a post that has been vacant since 2009. However, his term ends on May 31, and his replacement has not been chosen.

The staff working under changing bosses is disgruntled. “It takes a year for them to understand the job, what is the point of constantly bringing in new people and then not even having them finish their term?” said one senior officer.

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