Exams are as much a migraine for principals of engineering colleges as it is for students, thanks to question paper leaks. But the use of technology could end the misery for principals and staff whose job it is to safeguard question papers in their care.
Until now, the usual practice is to transport bundles of question papers to various colleges days in advance. The question papers are then kept under lock and key until the day of the examination. Principals are usually on tenterhooks during the interim as most leaks happen while papers are in the custody of the college.
Visvesvaraya Technological University (VTU), however, has decided to eliminate the risk of a leak by going virtual. It will now transmit question papers online, eradicating the process of physically distributing papers. Principals and staff would have access to the question paper only 30 minutes before the exam.
To access the paper, principal and staff would be required to be present at the examination centre an hour before the exam. The principal would receive a password from a VTU staffer via his/her mobile phone shortly before the scheduled start of the exam. Staff would then have to enter the password simultaneously on three computers to access the question paper. Once downloaded, the question paper would be printed on high-speed printers and distributed to candidates.
Dr H Maheshappa, VTU vice-chancellor, revealed the process was put in place after a number of complaints on question papers being leaked.
“Sometime back, several people had complained about question paper leaks,” he said. “So we came up with the idea of transmitting papers online. We thought it was a safe, foolproof method. Colleges have already been informed about the process.”
Maheshappa’s colleague, Krishnamurthy, registrar (evaluation), said, “Physical distribution of question papers, which was managed by the university, was a tough task. The university had to first take a count of number of students and then get the paper printed at a press. We then had to ensure that these papers reached the colleges. The process carried inherent risks. For example many times, we had to send security to safeguard the papers after the vehicle transporting the papers broke down. It was a big worry.”
Meanwhile, under the national mission for education through information and communication technology (NMEICT) project, BSNL will provide each college affiliated to VTU with 20 high-speed broadband connections at subsidised rates. Colleges would have to meet only about 25 per cent of the costs. Once the connections are in place, VTU would have a virtual private network with all affiliated colleges.