Sambalpur university shelves plan to privatize exams

Sambalpur University has dropped its plan to outsource its examination process to a private company. The move was being considered as a major step to bring in transparency and reforms in the examinations using technology.

“We will not involve any private party in the examinations. As of now the proposal is shelved,” varsity registrar S S Rath told TOI on Sunday, putting to rest all debates over the planned system against which the employees’ union sent a memorandum to governor M C Bhandare on Friday. “The ongoing system will continue,” Rath added.

The announcement assumes significance as the change in stance comes when the varsity employees were up in arms against the proposal. In its memorandum to the governor, the employees’ union said that the varsity had resolved to outsource conducting of the examinations to a company whose credentials were not adequately established. It is estimated that the company would earn Rs 2.2 crore by charging Rs 35 per student per paper, the union said.

The varsity had received Rs 3.73 crore as examination fees in 2009-10 and had spent Rs 1.71 crore on the process. The union suggested that the varsity should develop its own technical expertise to computerize the examination system instead of handing it over to a private company.

Welcoming the varsity’s change in decision, employees’ union general secretary Mahendra Kumar Mishra said, “I hope the varsity will not attempt to go ahead with the proposal covertly.”

The Syndicate, the apex decision-making body of the university, had given its nod to the proposal and the varsity had floated tenders for involving a private party in July last year. Three companies, two Bangalore-based and another based in Hyderabad, had expressed their interest to conduct the exams.

The varsity was almost on the verge of finalizing the name of one the companies for the BOOT (build-own-operate-transfer) model. It was supposed to start conducting examinations of courses under the distance education to begin with. Starting from filling up application forms for examinations to, getting admit card, sending question papers to examination centres and tabulation of results, the company would have made everything online. The varsity has around 220 affiliated colleges under it and conducts examinations of over 65,000 students annually.

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