If you are one of the many former students of the University of Madras who have been made to run from pillar to post to get their degree certificate, chances are your problem might be sorted out soon.

The University will soon have an online student information portal launched by the Department of Journalism that will respond to text messages sent by students and alumni. Students now will just need to register with the system and then send a message asking for the required certificate. The system will respond with a ‘yes' if the degree certificate is in the department and ‘no' in case it is not there. Reasons for the unavailability will also be messaged to the student. Former students repeatedly throng the administration for their degree certificates and many are asked to come back later, because the university database does not have their certificate.

“We have many degree certificates of students who graduated in the 70s, 80s and the 90s. We even contacted the numbers given in the joining forms, but most of the addresses and phone numbers have changed,” said Gopalan Ravindran, head, department of Journalism.

Even students who graduated a few years ago face this problem. Shekhar Ramamoorthy has been frequenting the university campus for two months now. “I graduated in 2007 and didn't ask for my graduation certificate. Now I plan to study abroad and I don't have the degree. Most universities abroad ask for scanned copies,” he said.

The university officials told him that the delay was because he had not applied for the certificate till then. “The administration staff keeps changing, so you have to start from the scratch if you leave the pursuit in between,” he adds.

While student data till 2008 has been digitised, the information on students who graduated after that is now being made online.

The new portal attempts to make the process easier, mainly by removing human interface. The university, through its alumni network, has been using social media and urging alumni to collect their degree certificates.

The problem arises when students forget to take their certificates when they are issued after the convocation day, which is usually months after they leave college. “Many of them would have not cleared the soft skills subjects or some electives because of which their provisional certificate would not have been generated,” said Prof Ravindran.

The system will also bring in additional benefits for students presently pursuing courses in the University. “If a student now wants a leave or even a bona-fide certificate, he has to write a mail in the specified format. This process, especially when done frequently, can become quite necessary and ponderous,” said Prof Ravindran.

“Now, the student just needs to send a message with the request, the server will initiate a letter in the required format, send it to the department head and faculty members and also track the status.”

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