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Mumbai university’s rating for 2017: Poor

From flawed online assessments to overlapping exams and a V-C being sacked, 2017 saw it all

mumbai Updated: Dec 27, 2017 10:44 IST
Musab Qazi
Musab Qazi
Hindustan Times
Mumbai university,MU,MU online mess
University of Mumbai(HT File)

The year 2017 saw many firsts, but this one was certainly not pleasant. The vice-chancellor of the University of Mumbai, Sanjay Deshmukh, was sacked for his handling of the online assessment – a system that was introduced in a haphazard manner, leading to a six-month delay in announcement of results and endless woes for students.

The last time an MU vice-chancellor (V-C) had to leave his position before completing his term was 1986. The Bombay high court had held that a university official manipulated the results of MD examination at the behest of the then chief minister, Shivajirao Patil-Nilangekar and his daughter Chandrakala, who had failed to clear the test thrice. The marks scandal, as the incident came to be known, cost Nilangekar, then governor Kona Prabhakar Rao and V-C MS Gore their posts.

But unlike Gore, who left the position on his own accord, Sanjay Deshmukh, appointed as the VC in June 2015, had to be forced out by governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao, who is the chancellor of all universities in the state. The Raj Bhavan faulted him for “his gross negligence and failure in implementing the on-screen marking (OSM) system, to declare the results of examinations held in summer 2017, within the time limit prescribed in the law and for his failure to comply with the directions issued by the chancellor from time to time, regarding early declaration of results”.

Most of Deshmukh’s ambitious projects, including setting up university campuses in the US and Dubai, did not see the light of the day. Other decisions such as purchasing an aircraft to offer hands-on training to students pursuing BSc Aviation and a re-evaluation facility for internal examinations of colleges had to be rolled back. His plans to create an endowment fund to raise Rs1,000 crore for development of the university and a master plan for large-scale construction in Vidyanagari campus have remained on paper.

However, it was Deshmukh’s decision to implement the online assessment of answer sheets that proved to be his undoing. Introduced without sufficient consultation with teachers and university officials, and not much foresight and preparedness, the project delayed the results of lakhs of students for several months. Many of them lost job opportunities, while others failed to pursue their higher education plans. The results were found to be ridden with errors. This resulted in outrage among teachers, students and even politicians.

Deshmukh, however, stood by his decision. When enquired about the delay, Deshmukh had replied to the governor that conducting examination wasn’t his “day-to-day responsibility”. When sent on a forced leave, he wrote the governor, seeking reinstatement. Having become a political liability, the governor and the state government, who had handpicked him, were left with no option but to let him go.

First Published: Dec 27, 2017 09:35 IST