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Proposed Amendments to Maharashtra Universities Act

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The committee of technology-based examination reforms in state universities has suggested amendments to the existing Maharashtra Universities (MU) Act, 1994, to enable the use and integration of technology in the examination processes. Some of the key suggestions are:

There is a need to modify clause 32 (5e) of the MU Act to allow question bank or question paper bank systems. As of now, the clause states that: “The (exam) committee should obtain three sets of question papers in sealed covers in the respective subject. Chairman of the committee should draw at random one of such sealed covers containing question papers. The selected cover with seals intact should then be sent to the (printing) press.”

Different universities such as the Maharashtra Animal Husbandry and Fisheries Science University ( MAFSU); Babasaheb Ambedkar Technical University ( BATU) and the Maharashtra University of Health Sciences (MUHS) have variations to the above mentioned clause in their corresponding acts, but to the similar effect. The clauses are needed to be modified to allow usage of IT in setting question papers with built in security measures.

Separate clause be inserted fixing responsibility on the pro-VC, dean or director of evaluation for imparting training to teachers and administrative staff on usage of technology, new trends in the assessment processes such as cognitive and summative assessment, creation and use of repository of questions, use of technology in paper setting and conduct of examination.

Changes needed to ensure that the controller of examination (CoE) or director of evaluation are part of the decision-making process instead of the prevailing system of being invitees on university committees. This will remove difficulties faced in recruitment of staff or availing of finances related to examination section.

For financing the information and communication technology (ICT) initiatives in state universities, the reforms panel has suggested that the larger universities, with surplus amount left from exam related revenue, may utilize the same for implementing IT initiatives.

Smaller universities may collaborate with the larger universities and enter into an agreement with service providers jointly. Due to a large number of students of both the universities combined and economies of the scale, the cost per student of the IT solution should be reduced in comparison to purchase of IT solution by smaller university on its own.

Smaller universities can share the infrastructure such as data centre, etc, of the larger universities and use in-house developed software of larger universities.

The universities may opt for either Capex-Opex or transaction-based fee models for funding IT initiatives. In the first model, the universities invest upfront in the capital expenditure (Capex) of deploying hardware and software solutions. In the following years, the expenditure is then limited to operational expenditure (Opex). In the second model, the universities employ services of a service provider whom they pay per use on number of transactions. The fee per transaction is fixed slab.

The committee has recommended that examination-related revenue should not be used as general revenue by the universities. It should be used only for examination related expenditure.

Source: Times of India

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