'Online' JNU entrance exams are a scam in the making: JNUSU

Written by Sabrangindia | Published on: September 24, 2018

Students from distant areas and marginalised backgrounds will be heavily discriminated against as online exams require good internet connection in the area as well as computer proficiency as an additional skill for the examinees.

 

JNU Exam

Representation Image


New Delhi: In June 2018, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) announced that it will conduct its entrance exams online. The JNU student’s union has raised some pertinent questions about the safety of holding the exams online and how it could be a massive scam in the making.
In a release, the JNUSU said that the democratic process was being violated in imposing online mode for JNU Entrance Exam (JNUEE.)

“Conduct of exam outsourced to private vendors, with admin demanding answer keys months before exam- violating the existing time-tested robust procedures- raise serious concerns about breach of security. MCQ format is partial and negates a comprehensive evaluation of analytical, writing and other skills which are so very necessary, particularly in Humanities and Social Sciences. Students from distant areas and marginalised backgrounds will be heavily discriminated against as online exam necessarily requires good internet connection in the area as well as computer proficiency as an additional skill for the examinees,” were some of their concerns.

JNU administration pushed 'online examination' onto the agenda of the last Academic Council meeting and declared it to be 'passed' unilaterally ignoring the dissent of the majority of the house and refusing to discuss the questions raised by teachers about both procedural violations and substantive questions about online examination.

Even after reports of plagiarism against two faculty members, the VC continued to retain them in the Online Exam Committee and accepted their recommendations.

The question paper has to be set and given by October 8. If they are not ready, non-JNU 'experts' who have already been handpicked by VC (no procedure/rule been cited for the same) will set the papers.

The new move will also up the risk of paper leaks. “Are we not aware of massive glitches and leaks in NEET, SSC and even in the recently held DU online exams? So why is VC so keen to make JNU's time-tested robust and esteemed entrance process and future of thousands of aspirants vulnerable to malpractices, leaks and glitches,” the JNUSU release asked.

They further asked, “What was the need to switch to an online mode that would be exclusionary for deprived sections of society especially people coming from rural areas both in terms of access and affordability? Isn't the online exam doubly discriminatory towards students from distant areas and marginalised backgrounds, since it necessarily depends on good internet connection in the area as well as computer proficiency as an additional skill for the examinees.”

JNU conducts exams for 169 academic programmes in offline mode in 72 centres across 54 cities.


Full text of JNUSU’s concerns:

JNU VC's Push for Online Mode in JNU Entrance Exam - A Massive Scam in Making
 
  • All statutory rules and democratic process being violated in imposing online mode for JNUEE.
  • Question setting sought to be outsourced, thereby trampling upon the rights of JNU's faculty and departments, and JNU's academic integrity on the one hand, and on the other, opening up the possibility of leaks and other malpractices. Further, JNU cannot hold those accountable who are not its employees!
  • Why call it JNU Entrance Exam anyway, Mr. VC, if questions are being set by your handpicked 'experts' from outside JNU?
  • Conduct of exam outsourced to private vendors, with admin demanding answer keys months before exam- violating the existing time-tested robust procedures- raise serious concerns about breach of security.
  • MCQ format is partial and negates a comprehensive evaluation of analytical, writing and other skills which are so very necessary, particularly in Humanities and Social Sciences.
  • Students from distant areas and marginalised backgrounds will be heavily discriminated against as online exam necessarily requires good internet connection in the area as well as computer proficiency as an additional skill for the examinees.
JNU administration in a hasty and illogical way has decided to impose online examinations as the mode of entrance examinations for admissions for academic year 2019-20. However the online entrance examination is nothing short of a massive scam in the making, that’s going to engulf JNU and future of thousands of students.

First and foremost, the proposal for online examination came up with the JNU VC forming a committee with some teachers as its members, which recommended that JNU should change its entrance examination into complete online mode. The committee submitted its recommendations not to Centre Chairpersons as is the norm, but only to Deans of various Schools. The meeting of the Deans of Schools - which doesn’t have any legal standing to deliberate or decide on this agenda - passed the recommendations, noting the dissent of two Deans.
Two members of the committee, Krishnender Meena and Anuja, are accused of massive plagiarism in a detailed investigative report published in a reputed news portal. Despite this information being in the public domain for months now, the JNU VC retained the composition of the Committee and accepted its recommendations.

Now in a completely brazen and even more surprising move, JNU administration pushed 'online examination' onto the agenda of the last Academic Council meeting and declared it to be 'passed' unilaterally ignoring the dissent of the majority of the house and refusing to discuss the questions raised by teachers about both procedural violations and substantive questions about online examination.

It is important to note that it was in this AC meeting that JNUSU was illegally debarred from attending, citing some proctorial notices which were, by the way, served to JNUSU weeks after the AC! At any rate, proctorial notices cannot take away JNUSU's democratic rights of representation. It was in the absence of JNUSU that the agenda was placed and unilaterally imposed on JNU. This only shows how tactically admin used debarring of JNUSU  from the AC to get the online exam proposal imposed on JNU like its various anti student policies.

In meetings called by the Deans of three Schools later for implementation of this illegal circular, some extremely alarming information about the JNUEE exam has been imparted. The Deans have asked Centres to set up exam committees within a week as instructed by the administration.

Below we share some of the damning aspects that have come to our knowledge
1. Entrance exam will be of two hours and 70 marks, for all programmes for which JNUEE takes place, in all streams. Multiple shifts will be held. 
2. In the case of M Phil exams, an additional 30 marks will be earned by the candidates through interview (15 marks) and an essay question that can be set on the same day as the interview (15 marks).
3. Entrance exam of MA will be based only on the exam paper - 70 marks and 70 questions.
4. Each exam paper will be set by a three member committee. The coordinator of each committee will pick the questions out of a question bank and will provide these in a pen drive that Admissions branch will give, and later store securely.
5. Whats most surprising is the fact that JNU VC has constituted an “experts panel” from outside JNU who will also be responsible for preparation of the question paper! Questions in the question bank will be provided not only by JNU faculty but by “experts from across the country in addition to JNU faculty” (AC Minutes Page 8, Item 4)
6. The answer key should be given well in advance i.e. with the question paper to the JNU admin in a pen drive and a sealed cover, which was not the earlier practice. Earlier the centre would keep the answer key safe and would bring it to the evaluation centre, circulate and take it back after all entrance exam papers are evaluated. Never was the answer key given to JNU admin in advance.
7. The corrections will be done by the machine, based on the answer key.
8. The question papers are to be readied by October 8. If they are not ready, non-JNU 'experts' who have already been handpicked by VC (no procedure/rule been cited for the same) will set the papers.

JNUSU's Questions to VC:
  • What was the need to switch to an online mode that would be exclusionary for deprived sections of society especially people coming from rural areas both in terms of access and affordability? Isn't the online exam doubly discriminatory towards students from distant areas and marginalised backgrounds, since it necessarily depends on good internet connection in the area as well as computer proficiency as an additional skill for the examinees?
  • Let us note that JNU's admission policy categorically states: “(JNU will) take special measures to facilitate students and teachers from all over India to join the University and participate in its academic programmes.” (From JNU Admission Policy). Isn't then the online mode a direct violation of the very principles which govern our admission policy and the all India character of JNU's admissions?
  • Why was such a decision taken in absence of JNUSU in an AC meeting and why was JNUSU never invited till date for any meeting regarding online entrance examination?
  • Why is it that even after reports of plagiarism have come up against two faculty members, the VC continued to retain them in the Online Exam Committee and accepted their recommendations?
  • Why is the VC so keen on assigning question paper setting to his handpicked 'outside experts'? Through which process is this 'outside expert panel' being chosen? Isn't it violative of the rights of our faculty, centres and above all JNU's academic integrity? Why call it JNU Entrance Exam anyway if questions are being set by VC's handpicked 'experts' from outside JNU?
  • Further, apart from question paper setting, by handing over the conduct of entire exam to a private vendor, isn’t JNU administration risking the possibility of a massive paper leak? Will the administration make the name and details of the tender public? Why so much secrecy in the conduct of the examination?
  • Doesn't such outsourcing open up possibility of leaks and other malpractices? How will JNU hold those accountable who are not its employees?
  • Are we not aware of massive glitches and leaks in NEET, SSC and even in the recently held DU online exams? So why is VC so keen to make JNU's time tested robust and esteemed entrance process and future of thousands of aspirants vulnerable to malpractices, leaks and glitches?
  • After submission of questions to JNU admin, we are told that JNU administration will study all the question i.e. “proof read” them from 8th Oct to 22nd Oct. Why should the administration proof-read questions submitted by JNU teachers, that too with the answers in their hand?!
  • Further, why is the administration demanding the answer keys months before the holding of exams, in gross violation of JNU's existing time tested robust rules to guard against leaks and compromises? The admin's claim that the answer keys will be opened in front of school/spl centre representatives is not good enough, as it interestingly excludes centre level representatives and paper setters. VC has shown that he imposes everything just with the 'approval' of his chosen few, and hence the proposed scheme appears dubious and compromised from the word go.
  • On what academic rationale and logic is the JNU admin forcing Social Science and Humanities departments to frame question as MCQs? Not even IITs in India have MCQs as exam module for Social Science and Humanities Departments.
  • Is JNU VC planning to destroy deprivation points across the board from BA, MA, to MPhil-PhD? The concerned proposal doesn’t talk about how deprivation points will be taken into account?

Like Modi personally negotiated and signed the Rafale deal which has turned out to be a biggest defence scam in Indian history, the JNU VC too has personally and unilaterally moved to push the online mode of JNUEE. He formed the 'committee' with faculty members facing serious charges of plagiarism, took a so-called 'decision' in an AC meeting that debarred JNUSU, did not take opinions of centres and chairpersons, didn’t place it before standing committee of admissions, is asking for the answer key well before the examination, wants a panel of 'experts' (handpicked by VC without any rule or transparency) from outside JNU for setting of question paper. These and other instances of arbitrariness only suggest the possibility of a massive scam with JNUEE.

There seems to be a massive scam in the offing, with the JNU VC displaying inordinate haste and trampling upon all statutory rules and democratic consultation, making the whole process even more suspicious. JNUSU demands the proposal to be immediately withdrawn and the existing system be continued.

N Sai Balaji, President, JNUSU    
Sarika, VP, JNUSU   
Aejaz, Gen Secy, JNUSU   
Amutha, Jt Secy, JNUSU