Even though it has been more than a year since University of Kerala Vice-Chancellor A. Jayakrishnan filed a patent application for a tamper-proof examination answer script he designed, the varsity is yet to trial-run the new design in any of its examinations.

The new answer script is also a potential gold mine for the university, if the design gets patented and if at least all universities in Kerala start using this answer paper, the University of Kerala stands to rake in huge sums of money as royalty.

“As per the IPR (intellectual property rights) laws of the university, 50 per cent of all patent-related revenues goes to the inventor and the rest, to the university itself. If some 10 to 15 universities in India adopt this script, the University of Kerala will become a self-sustaining institution,” Dr. Jayakrishnan told The Hindu.

The patent application filed by Dr. Jayakrishnan notes that the new answer script “incorporates a custom-made transparent plastic sticker having self-sticking adhesive on one side and a scratchable opaque film on the other side.”

Once the student hands in the answer booklet after the examination and before it is sent for evaluation, this custom-made sticker would be affixed over that part of the booklet where the register number/candidate code and the answer booklet number are marked. The opaque and removable covering on the top of the sticker prevents anyone from identifying the candidate code on the booklet.

After the evaluation, the designated university staff would scrape off the opaque covering of the security film to read the candidate code beneath. “Only then would the candidate's identity be known. The staff can then enter the marks into the university's computer.

The greatest advantage of this system is perhaps that there would be no need for issuing false numbers for answer sheets. The issue of false numbers (and their decoding) is what takes the longest time in an exam process,” Dr. Jayakrishnan explained.

He also pointed out that it was virtually impossible to tamper with an answer script on which this custom-designed sticker had been affixed. If the sticker was torn away, that part of the answer script would also be torn off. Such damage can in no way be concealed.

‘Cost-effective'

According to the Vice-Chancellor, the ‘sticker' method would cost less than affixing bar codes on answer scripts. Simple bar codes could be easily tampered with. Though magnetic bar codes were more secure they were expensive and also required costly scanners.

“Though the Pro Vice-Chancellor and I have discussed piloting this answer sheet through some examination or the other, it has never happened so far. I plan to trial-run my design soon,” Dr. Jayakrishnan added.