Bhubaneswar, Dec. 5: Utkal University, considered the biggest seat of higher learning in the state, has earned the dubious distinction of reporting maximum number of malpractice cases during degree examinations in the past two years.
Sources in the higher education department said that the premier university has recorded 658 cases in the last academic year as against 604 in 2011-12. Officials blamed it on the manpower shortage and inadequate monitoring infrastructure.
University vice-chancellor Prashant Kumar Sahu said: “I should not be blamed for the number of rising cases of malpractice. These cases have been reported at the graduation level in the 373 colleges affiliated to the university. The blame should be squarely put on the government as it did not fill up vacancies of teachers.”
Sahu said he had raised the issue with the higher education department in the past, but in vain. “Due to lack of teachers, quality of teaching has been compromised and students indulge in malpractice to pass exams,” he said.
Higher education minister Badri Narayan Patra countered the vice-chancellor’s argument, saying that university authorities ought to take steps to improve quality of education and ensure proper management of exams instead of complaining. “Today, we introduced the Odisha Conduct of Examination (Amendment) Bill, 2013, to reform the exam system and curb all kinds of malpractices. There is a provision for punishment of students and teachers found guilty,” the minister said.
Sources in the government said the punishment would involve penalty and even a jail term up to seven years.
Utkal controller of examination S.K. Das said: “The number of malpractice cases would have been detected had we been able to send flying squads to the colleges for inspection during the examination on a daily basis. Staff shortage has hit our checking system.”
Das further said the majority of malpractice cases were detected in subjects such as English, chemistry, physics and economics.
Tanmaya Swain, a student leader of the varsity, said failure of the authorities to formulate stringent laws against malpractice had encouraged the trend.
“There are colleges where mass copying takes place. Unless the university takes exemplary action, such cases cannot be checked,” he said.
Second in the list of malpractice-ridden universities is Shri Jagannath Sanskrit Vishvavidayalaya, Puri, with 236 cases, followed by Fakir Mohan University-Balasore (202), Ravenshaw University (171), Berhampur University (126), North Odisha University-Baripada (92) and Sambalpur University (79).
In 29 government colleges of the state, 2,717 cases of malpractice were reported last year.
However, most of the teachers and controllers of examination admitted that many cases of malpractice went undetected.
Vice-chancellor of Fakir Mohan University Kumarbar Das, who worked for nearly 25 years in Utkal University, said: “I have no hesitation admitting that the number of actual malpractices cases is much more than those detected. Parents should also be held responsible for this.”