Mumbai University finally seems to have pressed the panic button on the assessment process for the final undergraduate exams.

Around four meetings are scheduled on Saturday -usually a holiday for the university --to finalize a third-party service provider for the proposed onscreen assessment process. The authorities have also released the training schedule of teachers to familiarize them with the process. With the major exams commencing from April 3, the assessment should have begun by April 6.

At the current rate, the process is not likely to commence before May 1.

A third round of tendering began on April 5, as the university was unable to find a service provider in the first two rounds. On Saturday , not only will the financial and technical bids be opened, the purchase committee and management council will also meet to finalise the service provider.The training of teachers will be wrapped up in four days from April 24 to 27, said registrar M A Khan, and the scanners will be installed simultaneously . The list of teachers who will participate in the training was released on Tuesday . Auniversity official said 22 lakh answer sheets will have to be assessed online if all the students are taken into account. All the 32 pages in each answer sheet will have to be scanned as students could mistakenly leave some pages empty and write again later. Around 100-150 scanning machines will be required, added the official.

An office-bearer of the Bombay and University College Teachers' Union said it is unfortunate the main stakeholders -the teachers, who would be evaluating the papers -were not involved in the decisionmaking process. “For two years, there is no discussion between the university and academic community before taking such massive decisions.The university cannot start the online process without any adequate preparation and without a feasibility study for such large numbers of students,“ said the member.

The first results of the engineering exam after online assessment in 2014 were riddled with errors. “There were only about 55 engineering colleges affiliated to the university then. With the assessment of papers of students from all the 800 colleges, it could prove to be a disaster. This should have started in phases,“ said a principal from a suburban college.

TIMES VIEW:

Delays in setting up the online system may affect the assessment schedule and thereby, the declaration of results. While the move to overhaul the university's age-old methods of evaluation is unexceptionable, especially in the light of the repeated miscalculations and frauds that plague the process, the execution seems to lack adequate planning. The academic community should have been consulted earlier and the technical groundwork should have already been in place.