IDOL postponed the final year arts, commerce and science exams with no new dates for the conduct of the exams.
While the new exam format was a change for students and Mumbai University authorities, the inefficiency of officials of the university has once again led to an embarrassing fiasco. The university officials are aware of the limitations of their technology partner and should have insisted on a series of security drills. The exam process has ended up as a nightmarish experience for close to 1 lakh candidates.
On Tuesday, many candidates complained that when they clicked on the exam link sent to them, a message saying ‘No exams scheduled’ flashed. Around 8,000 TYBA and TYBCom students were scheduled to take their second exam on Tuesday.
The university, which held a review meeting, concluded it was a case of cyber attack. A complaint was lodged with the cyber cell.
Several IDOL officials said they felt the crash was a result of a coordination failure between two edtech agencies handling the IDOL account.
For years, IDOL and all Mumbai University work has been with the Maharashtra Knowledge Corporation Ltd, which registers students and carries out other IT-related services like issuing hall tickets. This time the university selected a Singapore-based edtech firm, Littlemore Innovation Labs (LMI), to conduct the exams for IDOL.
“We cannot rule out cyber attack,” Deepak Mukadam, a long-serving former senate member and current management council member of the university, said.
He said the company claimed the server crashed and so exams could not be conducted. “This default by our third-party exam conducting partner has caused embarrassment to a prestigious university like ours. The company should be blacklisted by our technical team and the failure to conduct the exam also reflects poorly on us for choosing such a partner,” he said.
Another senate member, Supriya Karande said: “If there would have been coordination between the two companies this exam would not have been a fiasco.”
LMI is the most expensive among the firms employed by other state universities and MU-affiliated colleges to conduct online exams and charges Rs 20 per student per paper, claimed sources.
Phone calls to LMI met with no response.
A MU press note said: “A technical problem has arisen due to a cyber attack on the server responsible for conducting the final year exams on Tuesday. As a result, the University has also postponed the exams scheduled on October 7. The new dates for these exams will be decided soon and will be displayed on the university’s website. The university will file a formal complaint in the matter.”
Exams for BSc-IT, BSc-computer science, MCA and backlog exams for BA and BCom had been scheduled on Wednesday.
Mumbai University College Teachers’ Association demanded a high-level inquiry against the software vendor.