No. of students passing first-year exam up by 12% in city colleges after review of results

Four months ago, less than 60 per cent of students passed their first-year examination in the private engineering colleges of Anna University.

Now the institutes and their students have a reason to rejoice, and complain. The revaluation results declared last week increased the number of all-pass students by at least 12 per cent, said heads of private colleges. They are, however, miffed with Anna University as they feel the varsity is not handling the evaluation system properly.

For instance, of the 1,005 students who wrote the first-year examinations in a private college, nearly 290 failed in at least one subject. When the revaluated results came, 91 of them passed.

“Every private college spends at least Rs. 25 lakh on revaluation every semester. The number of students applying for revaluation has increased significantly in the last three years. There is a general belief that nothing but the revaluation result is final,” said the principal of a private college.

A student spends Rs. 400 on revaluation and Rs. 700 to obtain a copy of the answer sheet. More than the cost factor, the psychological trauma the student has to undergo, waiting for the revaluation results, is worrisome, said professors.

In most private colleges, said R. Ramkumar, a professor, students who have failed the exams are asked to, and sometimes, even forced, to fill up revaluation forms.

“It is very difficult to concentrate on the next semester and most often, such students fail in internal tests and viva. Many find it difficult to take up project work. The results of the revaluation are declared only about four weeks before the next semester exams,” said Girija Nathan, a student of Sri Venkateswara College.

Students’ anxieties have worsened, because last week, Anna University released two sets of revaluated results.

“First, they released the results of subjects other than mathematics. That increased the overall pass per cent of our college by 10 per cent, and then after four days, they released the revaluated mathematics marks. We review faculty members’ performance after every exam result. These changes only make it difficult for us to plan,” said Manorama Sidiqui, a mathematics professor.

The principal of a private college on OMR said, after revaluation, even students who failed in 2-3 subjects cleared them.

Teachers closely associated with evaluation said the problem mostly lay with theoretical subjects where the answers are subjective.

“Some teachers give very few marks for short answers. Often, there are also evaluators who know little about the subject and keep asking other teachers how much a particular answer deserves. Because of such teachers, there are some answer-sheet sets that have random scoring,” said a senior professor who has been an evaluator for nine years.

Some teachers also said the surge in pass percentages after revaluation could be due to moderation of scores by the varsity in the wake of abysmal results.

However, Anna University officials said shortage of qualified teachers in private colleges led to faulty evaluation. “Only the review papers are checked by Anna University teachers. The rest — over 6 lakh answer sheets — are checked by 10,000 teachers from various private colleges. The University makes sure there is strict scrutiny at all centres. But there is not much we can do to fight the shortage of teachers,” an official said.

The crunch in faculty strength was so severe a few years ago that the University lowered qualification requirement from five years’ experience to three when hiring teachers.

“Last semester, to evaluate 20,000 civil engineering papers in Tirunelveli, there were just two qualified teachers. As a result, we had to bring all the papers to Chennai,” the official said.

“Private institutions must pay decent salaries to retain qualified staff. Otherwise, it will affect them adversely,” the official said.

This report has been corrected for a factual error