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Mumbai University online service fiasco: Colleges told to upload data again

mumbai Updated: Oct 05, 2016 00:27 IST
Musab Qazi
mumbai university

Colleges have been asked to upload the details of first-year students online again.(HT Photo)

The University of Mumbai’s (MU) decision to hire a private firm for pre-admission registration of students seems to have turned out to be another fiasco. After asking over 2 lakh students to register online, the varsity has found that the student data provided by the firm is of no use. Colleges have been asked to upload the details of first-year students online again.

Reason: the university has reverted to Maharashtra Knowledge Corporation Limited (MKCL) — which has been providing online services to MU for the past nine years — for pre-exam work. Since MKCL, which is a public limited company, uses a different format for collecting the data, it cannot use the data sent by the firm.

University sources said Exxon had decided to assign a 12-digit Permanent Registration Number (PRN) to each student, instead of the 16-digit PRN used by MKCL. The PRN helps the university organise the database of students studying in affiliated colleges.

Exxon said its data is perfectly compatible with MKCL’s system. “We have provided the data in three to four formats. We were ready to assign 16-digit PRNs if the university wanted,” said Prasad Bandivdekar, director of the firm. The MU will pay around Rs45 lakh to the private firm.

An MKCL engineer, who handles the MU’s online operations, said, “Exxon was tasked with enrolment of students but we will be handling exam-related work.”

Exxon Automation Private Limited was hired by the university to break free from MKCL, whom it holds responsible for goof-ups in issuing exam hall-tickets to students. Many say that the varsity is unable to severe ties with MKCL as the contract, signed in 2007, makes it difficult to do away with their services.

Earlier this year, the contract for the enrollment-related work was awarded to Exxon through tendering process. This was made possible by a government resolution which required MKCL to be a part of competitive bidding. MKCL’s services were costly and they were not selected.

MA Khan, registrar, MU, said, the varsity had planned to assign the gamut of online services to the private firm, but decided to entrust MKCL examination-related work to prevent delay in holding examinations. “MKCL has the experience of doing it for many years,” he said.

No full-fledged controller of examinations

The university registrar said they have prepared a ‘Request for Proposal’ to hand over its entire operation from MKCL to Exxon but they it decided to wait till the appointment of new Controller of Examination (CoE), which is likely to happen on Wednesday. The post has been vacant for nearly a year and there is an officer who has been given temporary charge.

After a goof-up in issuing hall-tickets last year, the university had withheld payment to MKCL, which charges Rs50 per student a year. According to a source, the university has decided to release 90% of the amount. 

In June, Exxon had come under fire after MU’s admission portal became unresponsive on the first day of pre-admission registration process. The private firm, which handled the process, said it didn’t get enough time to design and test the system.