With just 10 days to go for the examinations, many distance education students of Madurai Kamaraj University (MKU) are yet to get study materials due to delay in printing and despatch.

The Directorate of Distance Education of the university is struggling to supply study materials for various courses and complaints have started pouring in at the grievance section.

Official sources told The Hindu on Monday that the distance education authorities are still despatching the lessons even as non-semester examinations for undergraduate courses are commencing on May 17 and for postgraduate courses on May 25. Examinations for various diploma and postgraduate courses will start by the end of this month.

University syndicate members and senior officials, on condition of anonymity, said that the decision to place bulk order with a single printing press at Narayanapuram in the city has boomeranged and ultimately the students were the sufferers.

“We are issuing the study materials as and when we receive them from the press. Delay happened especially for new courses since the syllabus had to be prepared and corrections had to be made after proofreading. From 2013-14, only one printer was given bulk order and the supply was not made in time,” a woman employee in grievance section of DDE said.

According to a syndicate member, the material for about 40 courses was given to a particular press and the enormous volume could have been the reason for the press failing to meet despatch deadline. He refused to answer why there was excess preference for a particular printer.

A senior professor, who earlier worked in the distance education wing, explained how the study material printing was monopolised by “powerful lobbying and agents.”

“In 2011, there were 20 approved private printing presses in Madurai and Sivakasi. But now only one private printing press in Madurai is given order in bulk and printing is not evenly distributed. That is a reason for the delay; preferences and lobbying should be kept away in the university,” he said.

The university has changed the study material supply system by asking study centre representatives to come to Madurai and collect them personally because of manpower shortage and to avoid postal expenditure, an official said.

R. Mohan of Ellis Nagar, a reader of The Hindu, highlighted the plight of students in a letter by stating that the MKU should introduce new courses only after printing lessons and keeping the entire subject material ready for students.

P. Vijayakumar, co-convenor, Save MKU Coalition, demanded that “fishy dealings” in printing issue must be probed immediately to save the students. “Normally, printing order is given to many printers. But, this year, MKU had chosen one printer and why did it happen? We will take up the issue with the Registrar and expose the deal,” he warned.

When contacted, Dr. K. Chinnasamy, Additional Controller of Examinations, MKU, said that over 40 new courses were introduced last year and it took time to prepare the syllabus and take up printing.

But how the students will prepare and fare in the examinations in such a short duration remains to be seen.

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