Student organisations demand enquiry into IDOL exam software contract

Anushka Pevekar

Mumbai: After a ‘cyber attack’ forced the University of Mumbai (MU) to defer the online exams for distance learning students, student organisations have raised questions about the university’s contract with the Singapore-based company that provided the examination software.

The student organisations have alleged that the software company wasn’t adequately prepared for the online tests at the university’s Institute of Distance and Open Learning. They also claimed that the company, which has offices in Singapore and Chennai, was hired without any research and demanded an enquiry into the university’s contract with the firm.

“The university officials didn’t do any research before making an agreement with the software company. The company has no Plan B, if Plan A fails during the examinations,” said Santosh Gangurde, vice president, Maharashtra Navnirman Vidyarthi Sena (MNVS).

In a letter to the university, MNVS has demanded that the university cancel its contract with the company and not provide any compensation for its services.

MNVS Delegation with MU officials

The university put off IDOL exams until October 19, after a technical snag prevented students from taking the tests on Tuesday and Wednesday (October 6 and 7). The university blamed the snafu on a ‘cyber-attack’ on the servers of its Singapore-based IT service provider.

Meanwhile, members of Nationalist Students Congress (NSC), the student wing of the ruling Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), met with Prajakt Tanpure, minister of state for higher education, and demanded to know if there were any irregularities in the contract. The meeting was also attended by the Vinod Patil, in-charge Registrar and Director, Board of Examination and Evaluation as well as Leeladhar Bansod, Deputy Registrar (Public Relations) at MU.

“Right from the admission process to issuing exam hall tickets, all the technical work at the university is being handled by Maharashtra Knowledge Corporation Limited (MKCL) company and suddenly the contract for examinations was given to another company. Is it for technical reasons or is this agreement done to maintain any personal relations? Is there any financial racket or a chain of brokers behind this?,” said NSC Mumbai President Amol Matele.

NSC members with Tanpure and MU officials

National Students Union of India (NSUI), the student wing of the ruling Congress party, has also sent a letter to the registrar of the Mumbai University, asking to conduct an enquiry and take action against the Singapore based software company. It has also demanded to take mock tests in each and every subject so that no student suffers because of the technical glitches.

Mumbai University and College Teachers Association (MUCTA), on the other hand, blamed lack of permanent staff at IDOL for the fiasco. “The teachers working for the exams are temporary/contract-based teachers whose contracts have ended long back and they haven’t received their reappointment letters and paychecks of the last four months,” the organisation said in a letter to the university.

Read: Mumbai University may conduct IDOL exams in smaller batches, multiple time slots

“IDOL hasn’t been treated as an institute so far. There hasn’t been a constant director of the university for the last five years. The institute doesn’t receive any grants. Even though it earns crores of rupees in admission and examination fees, there are no proper services to the students. After demanding so much money, at least stop disturbing the mental state of the students,” said Gangurde.

When asked for a comment, MU’s Patil told MahaScholar.com, “I can’t provide any information right now. We will issue an official statement later.”

Despite multiple attempts, MahaScholar.com couldn’t reach the company for a comment.

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