Revisions to the syllabus and changes to the examination pattern led to mass failures at the University of Mumbai, reads a letter signed by 12,000 students and submitted to MU by a teachers’ union.

The letter says the students were neither informed that the syllabus and exam pattern would be changed nor that new textbooks would not be given to them until the middle of the semester. The led to mass failures among first-year students of all streams, especially the commerce stream, claims the letter.

“The results indicate that not more than 15% students cleared the first semester examination,” said a teacher associated with MU and College Teachers’ Union (BUCTU), which submitted the letter to the vice chancellor.

Last year, MU started revising the curricula of all the courses. It introduced a choice-based credit system (CBCS), which allowed students to opt for subjects from departments other than their own. The university had also decided to do away with internal examinations for BA, BCom and BSc courses and set a uniform question paper for examinations held at the college-level too. All these changes were made effective for first-year students of all undergraduate courses last year.

However, many academicians criticised the “hasty” manner in which the syllabus changing exercise was conducted. “Ideally, the exercise should have started months before new academic session began. However, the university rushed through it and the new syllabus was introduced after colleges had started,” added the teacher.

BUCTU said the students told their teachers that they found it difficult to cope with the new syllabus, prompting the union to take students’ grievances to the varsity.

The students, through their teachers, demanded that instead of the syllabus being revised mid-term, they should have been informed of the entire structure of the new CBCS curriculum for all three years, including core and elective subjects. They said this would enable them to make a choice in ‘real’ sense.

The letter said the credit-based continuous evaluation method is extremely stressful for students. “We are always mechanically engaged in examinations. There is no time left for self study or extra-curricular activities,” reads the letter. The university should shorten the examination period and follow the norm of only teaching for 180 days every semester,” it adds.

Students have also complained about MU’s examination errors. They said they received their hall tickets just a day before the exams. Many hall tickets were riddled with errors, they claimed.

The letter also suggests that delays in declaring results leads to many students losing out on good employment opportunities, appearing for competitive examinations and applying to other universities. “Re-evaluation of answerbooks is delayed beyond the schedule of the next repeaters’ examination,” it reads.